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How do you get “Great Ideas”?

QV-7When aspiring entrepreneurs finally realize they have what it takes—desire, passion, drive, ambition— to be successful, they inevitably ask: “what great idea do I use to start my business?”

Or, it is the other way around: They have great ideas and ask: “now what?” and “do I have what it takes?”

I wrote my book for the last group, but I find there are a lot of people in the first group, too.  One thing is common to both, however: the word “idea”.   The second group already came up with an idea and the first group needs to come up with an idea.  So, what’s the process of coming up with “ideas”?

I don’t necessarily believe in the pure “light bulb going on” explanation.  Great ideas come from somewhere.  Like the first big bubble of a pot of water set to boil for spaghetti, getting a worthy idea doesn’t just happen; there’s a lot of planning (filling the pot, turning on the fire) and time. The water just sits there for a while, the potential for boiling just invisibly building up. There are a bunch of little bubbles, but barely noticeable, especially if you’re off stirring the tomato sauce. Then, boom. Bubbles. Ideas have to percolate, too, but they have to start with a goal: solving a problem.

Successful ideas, as the foundation of a successful business, come from identifying needs and problems that a lot of people have—they aren’t the “theory of relativity” sort of ideas.  So, the challenge is to find tasks that you can simplify for people, tasks that are too inconvenient, too costly, too troublesome, or can be done to produce a better result than current solutions.

So, here’s the secret: QUESTION EVERYTHING – all the time.

Every time something new comes into my life, I invariably invent a half-dozen products for it.  I finally brought a puppy into our lives and started walking it. I discovered “leash management” was a problem. My great idea was to design a new leash to help avoid tripping. I also discovered it was really hard to keep track of when she pooped and peed last, and my wife had no idea when it did its business with me, and vice versa.  So, I invented an app for that.

New ideas come from looking at tasks in your environment constantly, clearly understanding the purpose, and asking if there’s a better way to accomplish the goals.  If you find that people other than yourself think the current solutions to be troublesome, and your solution is better…well, now you might have something.

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