Coming up with an idea seems to be one of the biggest problems new entrepreneurs seem to have. Even worse is those who deal with having too many ideas. I wanted to write this post to help you understand a framework for not only creating an endless amount of profitable ideas, but how to filter out the bad ones so you can become laser focused on validating the ones actually worth your time.
My first business idea was literally handed to me, so coming up with ideas was never a problem until I sold that business and decided I wanted to start something new. The “normal” advice was to think of something great that could change the world, slave over building the product and try to get venture funding and then release that idea into the world. That exact process is why 99% of people fail when starting a business. They completely miss the foundational steps required to negate any waste of time, resources and failure.
I’ll help you go through each of these steps in this post and show you how to validate the ideas you’re left with in a future post.
Dealing With Excuses
I mentioned this above, but I really want to drive home how big of an excuse it is to say you can’t think of any “good” ideas. The entrepreneurs who start life changing companies are simply outliers. You really need to understand what I just said. In most cases, especially if you look at the average millionaire, they made their money from “non-sexy” businesses. That is, businesses that you would most likely overlook and move past, when in reality it could have been the quickest route to your financial freedom.
Knowing this, we are able to know open our minds to more possibilities and ideas that we previously would have thrown in the trash.
If you are on the other side of the spectrum and have too many ideas you’re very lucky as you’ve moulded your creative muscle to continuously generate amazing ideas. You’re biggest problem is being able to filter those ideas by using a few systems into a very small, but highly successfull ideas that you can then go out and validate with paying customers.
To sum it up, you are either one of two people: You can’t think of any good ideas and you need to build your idea generation machine or, you have too many ideas and you need to learn how to filter those ideas into a list that is worth your time and effort.
Creating Your Idea Machine
Creating your idea machine is very simple. You just need to learn how to turn it on. Most people will pre-filter and judge all of their ideas, but you aren’t going to be most people and you are not going to do that. I want you to take out a piece of paper or fire up Evernote. I then want you to write out no less than 50 ideas you have. Do not pre-judge them, just write them all down. No matter how dumb they may sound. Our goal is to have a simple starting point.
Don’t move forward until you’ve done this!
Did you struggle? I did the first time I went through this system and it’s ok if you did to. If you still need some help reaching that 50 mark, here is what you can do: List out all of the things you think people want help with, things you do regardless if you get paid and things you’ve always wanted to learn how to do. How would these things benefit your potential customers? For instance, I really enjoy working on my WordPress blog. Perhaps I could help new bloggers set up their blogs and tweak them to their liking for $100? Simple enough right?
Remember, we’re not trying to change the world right now, we’re simply trying to create a product that can generate at least $1,000 a month for us.
Now, I want you to batch these ideas into categories like Marketing, Writing, SEO etc… This will help you be more organized and perhaps even create more ideas.
The Simple Filtering Process
Before we attempt to validate 50+ business ideas in a short sprint for the next 6 months, we need to filter our ideas so we can focus on the ones that make the most sense. In order to do that we need to ask ourselves a few questions about each idea: “Am I willing and able to provide this service?”, and “Is my potential customer willing and able to pay for it?”
If one of your answers is no, you should probably move on to your next idea. Do this for every idea and only keep the ideas that passed this test.
You should have filtered most of your ideas out by now, but it’s still not enough for us to have a viable list to work with. Now we need to pick no more than 3 ideas that you are most excited to work on. Out of those three you need to pick just one we will focus on validating.
If you have trouble picking three you can filter them even more using a three table system where each idea is rated on three different things from 1-5 (5 being the highest obviously) on: Fun, Profitable, Ease of Starting. choose the three that rate the highest overall.
This Is How You Make Business 0% Risky
So at this point we have three awesome ideas we want to validate and the best out of those three is where we will focus our validation efforts. We successfully validate an idea by having at least three paying customers/clients. This can be done with digital products, physical products and services. Our goal here is to completely prove that our idea is worth pursuing and profitable without spending any money or wasting our time.
By the end of this process one of two things will happen: We negate any risk by learning that an idea is a failure early on without losing anything or we start a profitable business with $0 startup cost and all upside.
ps. I’ll be delving more in-depth on how to validate your ideas later this week so we can do this together.