This Is Where Great Startup Ideas Come From
It’s the single question that I get from entrepreneurs the most often:
“Is my startup idea any good?”
Now, I never answer this question. Ever. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I think, or what some west coast venture capital firm thinks, or even what some shady incubator application reviewer thinks.
Instead, I ask my own question:
“What makes you think it’s good?”
That answer is critical. So how do you go about figuring it out?
Cool Ideas Versus Must-Have Products
We all want to love what we do, and chances are pretty good that if we love what we do, we’ll be successful with it. But there’s a cautionary tale I hear over and over again, even from experienced, successful entrepreneurs: The startup graveyard is littered with ideas that the founders ran with simply because they fell in love with the idea of the idea.
There’s nothing wrong with chasing a cool startup idea, or falling in love with a startup idea without any due diligence or R&D. But at some point, definitely before we get too far down the execution road, we need to take the time to validate the idea outside of our own heart and brain.
Doing that presents a double-edged sword. You can’t just run around asking other people what they think of your idea. Like I said, it doesn’t really matter what they think, and doing so also presents the unfinished version of your idea to a lot of people who may not understand, might add their own crazy take on your crazy idea, or just plain steal it.
Yeah, that last one happens more than you think.
On the other hand, asking yourself how great your idea is — that’s like looking into a magic mirror and asking how attractive you are. Entrepreneur ego issues aside, that mirror isn’t incentivized to tell the truth.
It’s a tricky trap, and one that I still have to force myself not to fall into. So here’s what I do. If I come up with what I believe to be a brilliant startup idea, and if I ask myself why I think it’s good, and if I can’t put the answer into one…