“Things that annoy me end up fuelling my ideas.”-Josh James- Co-Founder, Omniture
While buying my Acer Iconia tablet, the most exciting aspect to me was getting to download various educational and productive apps on a portable device. I was able to carry work and entertainment with me, everywhere I went. There were fewer paperbacks cluttering my house. However, when I started searching for investment banking apps or even simple valuation apps, there was not a single app that met my needs. I was disappointed at first, but then a moment of genius struck me and I started sketching an outline for my ideal app. After some initial planning, backed by thorough research and a lot of motivation from my brother, who works at an investment bank, I decided to build Valuation App.
Inspiration can be anywhere around you. It doesn’t require a lot of effort to think of an idea for a business; you can get it by simply being observant in your daily life. Try to lookout for things that you don’t like or services that you wish were available to simplify your everyday life. Then derive motivation from what is missing and make an attempt to fix it. Michael Arrignton, Founder of TechCrunch once said “We live in a world where you‘re not being eaten by a lion when you fail, you just have to go get another job.”
Here’s a classic startup story: Ever get charged a fee for returning a video late? Bet you didn’t do anything about it. Well, when Reed Hastings got a whopping $40 late charge, instead of getting mad, he got inspired. Hastings wondered “How come movie rentals don’t work like a health club, where, whether you use it a lot or a little, you get charged the same?” From this thought, Netflix.com, an online DVD rental service, was born. Since launching in 1999, Netflix has now grown into a big business with multi-billion dollar revenues.
Coming up with a unique idea for your business doesn’t necessarily mean you have to invent something from scratch. There are still existing products and services that leave much to be desired. Asking yourself a simple question like “How can I improve and add value to this?” or “Can I do this better/differently from the others?” or simply, “Is there a market segment not being served in this category?” can give you a startup idea for your business. To quote Aaron Patzer- Founder of Mint, “Observe the world around you-everything you do, and especially everything you hate to do.”
Each one of us has probably had a genius idea or seen a successful business and thought to ourselves ‘That was obvious. Why did no one else think of it? Apparently, it is not the lack of ideas that scare individuals, rather the lack of understanding and guidance required to turn those ideas into a real business opportunities. A lot of young graduates have so many innovative ideas that go unimplemented just because they don’t know how to start or rather, WHERE TO START. I have spoken to a number of wantrapreneurs and many have shared this shortcoming with me- of not knowing what the first step in implementing a concept should be. More challenging than coming up with an idea, it is the process of working on it. This overwhelms most individuals.
“We’re not really good at knowing what we want, and we are quick to say “this sucks”. That’s where the opportunity lies.”- Gary Vaynerchuk- Founder, Wine Library TV
Before you go looking far and wide for a business idea, just wait and look around you for a few minutes. Your winning idea might just be lurking somewhere around you. Any little need of yours that remains unfulfilled or every time you utter the words “I wish” can give you an insight to your business idea. Pay attention to your surroundings and you will find inspiration in almost everything.
So embrace it all with open arms; the fears, the risks, the failures and the success.
“Because the majority of people out there are afraid to be different, it allows people like us to own the ball game.”-Peter Shankman- Founder, Haro