In his article, “How to Get StartUp Ideas,” Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, said something I have not stopped thinking about it:
“The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself.”
Originally, this thought process seemed backwards to me.
I thought that you would want to avoid creating any boundaries for your idea to stay within and essentially put together anything with any remote potential. But now I see why exactly it may be important to really have a standard framework and force yourself to answer a few questions before taking an idea from its infancy and beginning to develop it.
According to Paul Graham, “Once you’re living in the future in some respect, the way to notice startup ideas is to look for things that seem to be missing. If you’re really at the leading edge of a rapidly changing field, there will be things that are obviously missing.”
Identifying problems first is a great way to start the thought process. Because in reality if the product or company is not solving a problem, it’s going to be a lot harder to convince the consumer that they need to buy your product.
This also allows the creator to think about the factors that can directly affect their idea in any step in development. It allows for them to not only generate a successful business pitch but also think through any issues or challenges that may arise and how to combat them to any investors feel more confident in funding the process.
Following this framework also allows the creator to see the big picture. With a problem present, the creation now can generate one or many possible solutions along with careful analysis to assess which of those solutions will be the most efficient regarding concepts like price and production.
This process also helps us break down elements like are target demographics to then outline action items and strategically plan through the life cycle of the potential company or product. Developing the audience of consumers opens the doors to advertising and marketing which are both key factors in the startup process.