Coming up with a Game-Changing Startup Idea
Joshua Davidson wrote this article
Hands-down, this was the most asked question back in 2015 for us here at Chop Dawg.
How does one come up with a game-changing, world-shaking, profit-making, great idea to build a startup around?
Unfortunately, I can’t give you a direct answer on this blog post. If I could, I would be creating a new startup every single day since I would be guaranteeing success. Instead, I can only share with you the similar traits that I have found when building Chop Dawg, and working with our top performing clients (which I believe, will help anyone reading this greatly).
1) Using a topic about which they have an intimate understanding
It’s not a secret that most of the successful entrepreneurs that work with us have years of background in their industry. Of course, most are first time entrepreneurs, but they have worked for years in the industry that they are trying to build in. Aaron Sanders, our talented client who is launching the upcoming GoTeamGoal product has been in involved with sports for years. He was a former director of athletics for a college, a general manager for a fitness complex, worked in player operations, and even was a part of the sales team for the New Jersey Devils at one point.
It makes perfect sense with his background, that he would understand the sport sector, especially on the business side of things, intimately and know the needs and wants of this industry. Aaron wasn’t naively just jumping into a field he didn’t fully understand or couldn’t speak the language of.
You need to realize early on that your best chance for success with a great idea is to have a great idea in a sector that you can potentially have a competitive advance in. Build a company, an idea, an app for something that you’re truly passionate about, know the people in the industry and be able to speak the lingo. You’ll already be separating yourself from the pack before you ever even launch.
2) Solving a problem that they have personally been facing
Nicholas Ray, another one of our talented clients here at Chop Dawg, knew right away about a major problem for a specific niche of businesses – selling running, cycling, and multisport goods locally but struggling to break through the noise in an online world full of big competitors. How did he discover this problem? Because he was the consumer, stuck with big box-chains, trying to find someone local and respected to help him resolve his own needs. He realized that local stores in this particular niche needed a voice, the ability to not only have a beautiful web presence, but an eco-system for anyone needing these type of products to connect with authentic local stores while being anywhere in the world. Alas, the idea for Urbnsport was born.
When you’re solving a problem that you have personally faced, you are not only more motivated than ever, you get to be your own consumer. That means you will know exactly what you would want in order to use such a product or service. Again, you have a competitive advantage over the person who came up with an idea for the sake of having an idea. Use real life scenarios to figure out something you experience problems with often. The value of a good idea can come from a magnitude of different avenues. A problem you face often. A solution to something that the opportunity cost outweighs the current solution already existing in the marketplace. Realizing a better way to do something that no one has thought about before. Understanding something technology can solve that others haven’t considered. Whatever it is, focus on an idea for a solution you could personally use and relate to. As some say in the industry, don’t be afraid to eat your own dog food.
“Sometimes you download software and you just can’t believe how bad it is, or how hard it is to accomplish the very simple tasks that the software tries to accomplish. Chances are, it’s because the developers of the software don’t use it” – Forbes
3) Understanding that a problem being solved is a big problem for a lot of people
Of course, solving a niche problem may not be the best idea. Clearly there is a reason why companies such as Amazon exist. They created a solution to a massive problem and therefore, are now bringing in the massive rewards from solving this problem (aka, revenue).
When trying to figure out a great idea, make sure the idea is something that a big enough of an audience can relate to. This doesn’t mean a problem that can be solved for this audience, but as well, something this audience would pay for – whether that would be directly for the product, the service, advertising, subscription based, or anything in-between. You don’t want to be passionate about solving a problem that only relates just to you. You aren’t building a startup at that point. You’re being a hobbyist. That’s okay if all you want is a hobby, but you will fail as an entrepreneur.
4) Knowing how to speak to their audience
Notice how all of the items above relate to one another? That isn’t just coincidence. Solving a problem to a market you understand is often key.
The biggest reason perhaps outside of knowing it is something your audience wants – you can also speak to them. Think about this very blog for the moment. I write to entrepreneurs, inspiring entrepreneurs, startups, and creatives. I am using lingo in most of my posts that an attorney, a chef, an artist, a student, a bodybuilder, more than likely wouldn’t understand. Same if these individuals started speaking about what interests them to me. Roles would simply be reversed.
When you are intelligent and understand your own market, you can speak directly to them in a lingo that’ll be impactful. In the entrepreneurial world, it can be as simple as game-changing, revenue, profit, validation, scaling, databases, frameworks, servers, data analysis, and minimal-viable product. If I was writing about bodybuilding, it would be about macronutrients, gains, sets and reps, cycling, hypotrophy, caloric intake, ketosis, paleo, and things of that nature. When you can speak the lingo, you can market better, connect better, forge more relationships, create more value. All necessary to being successful, and again, a competitive advantage for you vs. the individual who is competing in a world that they do not fully comprehend.
5) Having a lot of ideas
It’s been a theme on this blog – I preach about quality over quantity. Typically always true except for a few instances. This is one. The most successful clients we work with, the idea they are talking to us about and move forward with, more often than not, is not their first idea. Sometimes, it is their hundredth.
Sometimes you need to have a quantity of ideas to locate that one truly special, quality idea. Sometimes it can take years. Others, days. For example, I am always using the SquareSpace Note app on my phone, and whenever an idea pops in my head, I write it down. To be honest, in the moment, every idea is a great idea. It is about believing in that idea weeks later, when you can’t stop thinking about it, that makes an idea special.
Perhaps Paul Graham of Y-Combinator says it best…
“I realized recently that what one thinks about in the shower in the morning is more important than I’d thought. I knew it was a good time to have ideas. Now I’d go further: now I’d say it’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower” – Paul Graham
It is no coincidence that all of the items above connect in one way, shape, or form. These aren’t the only ways to figure out your next great idea – but these are ones we find are most common and most applicable to the individuals that read this blog on a daily basis. Apply these to yourself over the upcoming months in 2016 and see what happens to stick. When one does, you know how to contact us here at Chop Dawg so that we can help you make it come to life (just click here!).