How to have good ideas
Shared by · 556d ago · 22 comments

I had a realization lately. Before working on my startup ( I used to have lots of ideas for startups, but superficial ones. Now that I've been working fulltime on this for like 4 months, I have fewer ideas for new projects but they are MUCH MORE specific, complex and it's usually things that don't exist already. I think the key is being fully immersed in a single subject like I am today.
Would love to hear if anyone else had a similar experience after giving your full attention to a single topic. · 556d ago

It's the difference between having ideas to solve actual problems you're having/seeing, or to try to come up with ideas that sound good and then look for a problem that could fit that idea. · 555d ago

and then there's everything in between (and on the sides), which is where real projects actually exist.

not a single practical solution is done without a healthy amount of dreaming. · 555d ago

Starting with the problem doesn't mean you're not dreaming. You're dreaming about solving the problem, instead of dreaming about your idea.

I should mention that what I said above only applies when you want to build something people want. If you just want to work on your cool idea, great, do that. Maybe it'll turn out that some people really want it, maybe not, that's fine.

Also I'm not saying that starting with an idea never works, or that starting with the problem is The Right Way (TM). Just that if you're looking for good ideas, starting with problems is a really good way to find some.

apache8080 · 555d ago
TLDR: Don’t think of startup ideas, work on side projects instead. · 552d ago

100% side projects that solve even just small problems are a great start over having 5 startup ideas you're spreading yourself thin on · 554d ago

"Work on hard problems, driven mainly by curiosity, but have a second self watching over your shoulder, taking note of gaps and anomalies."

"Just build things. Preferably with other students."

estebanvargas · 556d ago

The most actionable thing you can do is ask open-ended questions to as many people as you can about their frustrations. · 554d ago

Hi Esteban, what are your frustrations?

morning_coffee · 555d ago

Some heuristics i use for idea synthesis and/or validation

•Try not to be a hammer looking for a nail

•systems thinking: the trees make up a forest that contains multiple ecosystems. Your business is always a component in an ecosystem, even tho you may be focused on a specific branch on a specific tree dont forget the system. The system informs growth, vulnerability to change, and the real value of what your building.

•granularly map the exact workflow, minute to hour, of the person whose problem your solving in order to find the right fit for your solution, or in order to identify tasks theyre doing that can be done better. Further, granular workflow maps enable you to rank order tasks within a job, helping you solve the right problems and not trivial ones. Finnally, this ties into system thinking by helping y see the trees inside the forest.

•for enterprise: capturing outbound cash often better than capturing Internally allocated capital: can be used to rank order which problems to solve for a given domain based off of how theyre already spending there.

•For enterprise/heavy industries: solve existing problems before creating tools that expand capabilities, the latter can be a hard sell if the industry is conservative

•bradford cross’ “vertical AI thesis” informed me alot.

morning_coffee · 555d ago

The above are skewed towards “applied ideation”.

To create something entirely new, a couple methods.

•Kenneth Stanley (former head of ai at uber and an OG in ML) has this wonderful concept of “stepping stone ideas”. How do we come up with truly great ideas? Often by arriving at them accidentally, or through proxy and serendipity. He uses stepping stones as a metaphor for projects that bridge the possible now with the unknown future, because they maximise serendipity in some way, either thru where they sit in an ecosystem or because the tool being built is reliably multi-use (think glue versus a nail. Glue is widely applicable in many domains and via many different mechanisms, where as a nail has a more limited/targeted use. Making glue maximises the near abroad opportunities of the company relative to nails)

•play and fun. When we play and have fun, we do unexpected things. It is the unexpected that can lead to novel discoveries and creations · 555d ago

Interesting thought. I agree. I've started looking at ideas and businesses differently since I've started working on Headsup. I think more about people and less about solutions. Solutions to non-problems are infinite. Karen, are your current ideas related to the thing you're working on, or on various topics? · 555d ago

somewhat related, but not specifically on the same space/industry as my current idea.

yussef · 556d ago

Yes! I think even after stopping working on my first serious project, my thinking was forever changed. Much more specific, to your point, and much more focused on what would actually be useful to people.

manojranaweera · 513d ago

I rarely get ideas. came from the need to increase the survival of during covid 19 lockdown. So this was a problem driven specific solution.

AndyDent-Touchgram · 551d ago

I still have ideas but I have a long-established approach to dumping them out of my brain, nowadays into Evernote. I took the idea for doing this partly from a great book on writing, by Gerald Weinberg. It also helps with how to save the odd ideas for content marketing articles, bits that don't quite fit.

Sometimes those other ideas for startups actually contain something useful for what you're doing, either as a minor application of it or helping you think about business needs others have.

Here's the friend link to read it without having to go through the Evernote paywall · 554d ago

I think as we dive deep into any niche, we identify specific problem statements. I think this is quite good, since all large problem statements usually have several competitors. Building self-service solutions for niche specific problems can (maybe) help build a passive income source. · 554d ago

I have a feeling the best way to have good ideas is to have a lot of ideas + some kind of ranking mechanism.

atifali · 555d ago

I think looking for problems is the best way to find some nice insights for "side projects"!

marcs0h · 555d ago

I can absolutely relate.

One thing I've found interesting as we were getting serious with Pioneer is how pragmatic I've become in regards to startup ideas, specially my own.

Reviewing other people's project every week really helps putting perspective in the equation too. · 555d ago

spot on, karen!

i would say it's just A key, rather than THE key, though.

another key is what i like to call balanced chaos, or unbalanced harmony, same thing:

it's the difference between a piece of music which is perfectly tuned, without a single flaw, and it's nice like a recording of [your favourite musical piece], a perfect copy of one interpretation of that song... and one filled with flaws and disorder, but fully alive like the live and unique instance of that same song, played by the author for the first, nth or last time in front of an audience of 1 or N people.

i mean, playing your heart out is always beautiful! · 555d ago

Write them down somewhere you can revisit them so you don't need to keep thinking about them. The focus on the current idea now. Later if you have the time, start a new project. · 556d ago

Yeah I feel the same way. If you try to just come up some great idea you never do because you focus the wrong things. But when you do something like run a startup you will face some problems which you then notice and realize that you could turn them into another startup.