Use this method to start generating ideas that align with your passion and skills.
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September 9, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
There’s nothing I’m more passionate about than helping entrepreneurs find success. I’ve worked with countless individuals interested in starting their own business or side hustle, and there’s one other BIG question I continually get – and I bet it’s not what you’d think it is. (At least, it isn’t what I thought it would be!)
The question that keeps emerging in one way or another is this:
“How do I find the right idea?”
So many ambitious, self-motivated, and intelligent people have a desire to start something new but they are convinced that in order to be successful, they need a big, impressive idea.
To find out that exactly is holding people back, I spent significant time researching this challenge. That’s when a pattern started to emerge.
Through my conversations with aspiring entrepreneurs, I identified three groups of people who are trying to figure out how to find the right idea.
Do any of these sound like you?
1. The Shaky Dreamer
Shaky dreamers feel like they don’t have an idea, but they actually do. And usually, it’s a very good idea. But they just don’t have enough belief or confidence that their idea is good enough to be the idea they should pursue.
They are often looking for some external confirmation or go-ahead before moving forward and aren’t sure how to judge whether an idea is good enough to pursue or not. Sadly, they also doubt whether they are capable enough in their abilities to pursue their idea or not.
If you’re a shaky dreamer, it’s time to start moving forward. You can be confident to move forward with your idea if most of the following things are true about it:
- It allows you to do something you love (or at least really like)
- It puts one of your superpowers, talents or strengths to work
- There is market demand for it
- It solves a problem
- It has the potential to generate revenue (i.e, people will pay for it)
If you’ve done the research and you know most of these things are true for your idea, you should push your fears aside and start.
2. The Idea Machine
Idea machines don’t just have one idea – they have a million and one ideas. Their challenge is narrowing down their interests and committing to just one idea for long enough to really see it through.
If you’re an idea machine, it’s time to just choose one and really go after it. That doesn’t mean none of your other ideas will never see the light of day – you’ve just got to choose which will be the FIRST idea you tackle.
Here’s how I suggest going about the process of narrowing down your ideas.
- Make a list of all of your ideas.
- Narrow the list down to the three ideas you feel most drawn to.
- Do some market research.
- Choose one idea.
- Take action.
I often see people paralyzed trying to find THE ONE or THE BEST idea. You will never be 100% certain. Find the one you feel most connected or you are drawn to and START there. The only way to know which one of your ideas will be the most successful is to try them.
3. The Hopeful Founder
Hopeful founders know they want to start something, but they really have no idea what to do. They haven’t yet figured out what sort of business would be best suited to their talents, interests, and skills.
In order to come up with the right idea, you’ll have to do some serious self-reflection about who you are, what you love to do, and what you’re awesome at. Then, do some research!
Here are a few ways to start generating some ideas before narrowing it down to just one:
- Ask around. Do you have friends or family members who started a business? Ask them how their idea first came to them.
- Brainstorm. Get out a pen and paper and let your ideas flow, without judgment.
- Identify your strengths and passions. One of the best ways to find a match is to focus on leveraging your experience, strengths, and passions. List 5 things you are good at and passionate about. If you need some help, reach out to those closest to you and ask them what they think your strengths are…what do they value about you?
- Solve a problem. Many great products and services arose from someone who had a problem and wanted to solve it for themselves or others. When you solve a real problem people are facing, you know there will be demand for your product/service.
- Iterate, don’t innovate. A lot of hopeful founders tend to think an idea has to be a 100% original stroke of genius no one had ever thought of in order to be worth pursuing. Of course, that’s simply not true. My advice is iterate, don’t innovate.
Join my Free webinar with Entrepreneur on Wednesday, September 16th at 12pm PST to find a business idea you really believe in. We’ll talk about what phase you’re currently at in the ideation process so you’re able to walk away with an idea you’re genuinely confident about.