I Have an Idea!

One idea can change your life, catapulting you forward on the adventure of starting your own company. It can be both exciting and scary at the same time to start your own company, but the advancement of the world depends on people like you coming up with ideas for new solutions to old, nagging problems or for brand new ways to improve things, thinking differently than what is common today.

A good startup idea can change the world, solving a problem that people care about. Ideas are crucial components of building a startup company that will transform the world around you in radical ways. A few examples include:

  • Google transformed the notion of online search engines; and it started with a simple idea – organize the world’s information.  
  • Amazon transformed and centralized online shopping; and it started with a simple idea – use the Internet as a means to sell directly to consumers.  
  • Apple transformed music with iTunes years ago (among other things); and it started with a simple idea – allow songs to be purchased and downloaded from an online store and loaded onto a portable device that could be put in a person’s pocket, eliminating the need to buy hardcopy CDs and bulky CD players.  

As powerful as it can be right out of your mind, an idea takes time to develop. The above-mentioned ideas that changed the world were not overnight successes. They started as small, simple ideas and evolved over time into the powerhouse world-changers that they are considered today. Furthermore, ideas are important, but the execution of the idea is also valuable, if not more important in the long run over the development of the startup. However, without the ideas, it’s hard to find the excitement and inspiration to do anything worthwhile.

Three qualities of a good startup idea are: (1) it’s well-developed; (2) it can be sustained over multiple years through sound execution; and (3) it can evolve along different paths to adapt to how the world evolves over time.

An idea that you have for a new business that will attract investors to fund your rise, is a starting point and a flash of inspiration. However, how do you know if your idea for a company is a good idea or not?

The simple answer to this question is: process. Indeed, for your idea to take root and grow into a true startup company, it needs to be submitted to a process for vetting, strengthening and refining an idea. As you feel the pull within you to identify as an entrepreneur, you must realize that your company will be built on an idea (or ideas). It is in your best interest to understand how an idea takes shape, can be tested, studied, nurtured and launched.

Person Holding A Green Plant

Every great company started with an idea. You will start your own company with an idea, just as the founders of Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and other admirable companies did. It is a “seed” that all entrepreneurs need to plant, figuratively speaking, in order to reap a harvest.

Let’s look at the fundamentals of coming up with that special idea that will drive you to pour time, effort and resources into a new startup venture. Starting a company is not for everyone, but if you have an idea, you can be successful, no matter what your current financial situation is or what your educational credentials (or lack of education) are. Entrepreneurship levels the playing field.  

Ideation

  • Identify the problems that people experience and then, by brainstorming, think of potential ways to solve those problems through technology or other types of products or services.  
  • Use your imagination to put yourself 50 years into the future and think of the ways that your generation today will seem “backward” in the future; write down things that will likely be replaced by better products and think about what those new (future) products could look like.
  • Get inspiration from the ideas upon which new startups are building themselves, such as subscription-based digital platforms that provide a recurring service, such as Netflix or Pandora.

Evaluation of your idea

  • Figure out what successful startups did right and what unsuccessful startups did wrong
  • Determine how your idea is different than what exists today to solve a problem that still lingers or improves something beyond what current products and solutions can offer.  
    • Study the competition and compare your idea.  If you think “there’s no competition,” you should think harder about what “indirect” competition exists because there is always competition, one way or another.
  • Consider the data about tech startups, as data from the past few years shows trends in the market that may help you figure out if a market exists for your idea (A deep dive into examining a “market” will be later in this course.)
  • Put yourself in complex environments – physical or digital – and give yourself time to learn the inner workings of it, so you can figure out of your idea will actually work in a similar environment.  

Learning how to be an entrepreneur takes time, but you can shape your future in a positive way – and it begins with an idea. The good news is that you don’t have to figure everything out right now. You just need to know how to initiate, nurture and develop your idea. It’s your starting point.

You may have big ambitions and may even feel overwhelmed by it at times, but when you submit yourself to the process of learning how to create a startup company, the process is broken down for you into smaller pieces that make it doable. The best way to do big things as a startup company is to start out by doing small things.

With an idea you believe in and have tested, you can go far. The journey to learn all about how to do it is exciting and rewarding. It now begins.

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