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22 Comments

Where do your ideas come from?

We were recently talking about validating your ideas, but where do your ideas and problems to solve come from?

  1. 7

    The best way to find ideas is to start with a problem, preferably your own problem. That way, even if all else fails, you'll still have one user for your product :)

    And solving your own problem means that you're automatically in your target audience. This makes it much easier to stay motivated to continue working on it, and it means you can empathize more with other users in your audience, allowing you to build a better product.

    People say that you only need to talk to 5 users in your target audience in order to gain 80% of the research insights (after 5, you get diminishing returns for your time, and people start to repeat themselves). If you're in your target audience, then you only need to talk to 4 other people!

    1. 1

      That's the best way! Especially for start. Even if your product are not going to be successful you get great tool for yourself. It's amazing.

    2. 1

      Also an underrated benefit of scratching your own itch: you'll find it easier to eat your own dog food.

      Eating your own dog food is perhaps the most important source of product feedback.

      If you yourself (who's already heavily biased) can't tolerate your own product, how can you expect others to do so?

  2. 2

    For years I was terrible at coming up with ideas and then eventually I realised a few things:

    1. Your ideas don't need to be unique. It's perfectly okay to work on an idea that isn't particularly revolutionary or innovative. There's a good chance that even if your idea starts out identical to another, it won't stay that way as you build your product. You'll add your own variations and personal touches along the way and create something that is unique after all.

    2. Working on anything will lead you to new ideas. You'll start to see problems that need solving everywhere and it won't be long before you've got more ideas than you know what to do with.

    3. Look around. Just about everything you see is generating revenue for someone in one way or another. Every product on your desk, every website you visit, every service you use, every app on your phone, every game, tool and utility on your computer. And the only reason any of those things exist is because someone created them.

    Once you start seeing the world this way you start seeing ideas everywhere. So many ideas that you need to apply filters to reduce the number of ideas you have. Filters like:

    • what am I capable of creating?
    • what would I enjoy creating?
    • what can I do differently?
    • what can I do better?
    • how long is it going to take?
    • can I stick with it?
    • would I use it?
    • would my friends use it?
    • how can I find a market for it?
    • and so on...
  3. 2

    Research, research, research. Never start with a solution (i.e. you're own problem) and expect that people are going to buy it. Instead, go to the communities where people you know you can help hang out. Observe what they are complaining about and see where your expertise overlaps with those pains. See what those people will spend money on. See how they talk about their problems so you can use their own words to market to them. Build a product that way and you KNOW people will be waiting for what you create.

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      How do you choose a niche? There are millions of problems in the world. Finding a niche to serve is critical too.

      1. 2

        For me, I find a niche that I can get excited about. What niches would keep you motivated enough to work 40+ hours per week (or more during the earlier phases) on your product that may or may not start out strong?

        1. 1

          That's the problem hah. I have so many niches I love. Real estate, magic the gathering, content marketing, personal finance, etc. I have ideas for all of them hah, but realistically can only build 1 at a time due to full time work and family.

          1. 2

            Hey Yaro! I think you're ahead of the curve if you have lots of interests. That's a benefit, not a hinderance :D

            Choose the interest that you have the most expertise in. Which one would you feel comfortable giving a TED talk about?

            Then scour through forums and online communities where those people hang out. Then make all those observations I mentioned in the original post. The product idea will rise out of that research AND it will be something you care about. Instant niche ;)

            1. 1

              Thank you! I love that reponse!

  4. 2

    Reading. I get a lot of ideas from reading books. Problem is, I have a lot of ideas. Not enough time and resources to bring them all to life.

    1. 1

      Hey,could you tell what kind of books you read to get ideas ?

      1. 1

        Sure...I read a lot different stuff: Sci-fi (anything by neal stephenson), non-fiction history (Leadership), and current events + economics (mind f*uck, Narrative Economics, New Rules of War, The Sovereign Individual, One From Many). Also throw in a good fiction book every once in a while as well. And don't limit yourself to books. long form articles in mags like the Atlantic are also good. The interesting thing is its the combination of these readings that start to make your brain tick. it's called Consilience. Go broad to accumulate ideas and then let your brain work and it'll put stuff together you never could anticipate.

        1. 1

          Thanks for the reply!

  5. 2

    I'm building plausible.io to scratch my own itch. Last year I was looking for a simple, modern, privacy-friendly alternative to Google Analytics. There were a few on the market but none of them felt right for me.

    I actually wrote a blog post about the idea and where it came from https://plausible.io/blog/the-analytics-tool-i-want

  6. 1
    1. Liking the idea of solving problems of the society you live with/In to help out others.
    2. You work for a company and accidentally they refuse your way of thinking. because you are creative and like new challenges which they don't understand it.
    3. You are one of the genius people on this planet.
  7. 1

    https://explodingtopics.com/ - find a trend, or even better a niche within a trend, then find a pain point within that, then solve!

    1. 1

      man I love this website. well done.

  8. 1

    Problems that I've encountered.

    • SimpleCanje: this is my first product released, which is a guideline on how to go through the immigration process in Mexico City. This was a result of my frustrations dealing with the inaccuracies of requirements and time-consuming visits to the migration office. I'm happy enough just having something visible on the web to help people.
    • EduVault: This is my current side project, which is a result of subscribing to multiple online data engineering programs only to be disappointed with the content and/or spend more money than needed because I ended up not having time to complete the program. As a solution, I figured I would take the time to create piecemeal tutorials myself and to only charge one-time fees for each, so that you can come back to it whenever you have time.

    Both projects address problems that I've encountered multiple times and also have heard resonating experiences from others in the same boat as me.

  9. 1

    My head haha 😂.
    I basically write down a bunch of ideas and start filtering them down and seeing if there is potential

  10. 1

    A while ago I have combined my hobby (flying gliders) and profession (software development) in order to simplify some things related to general aviation.

    Just like other ideas, I prefer to solve issues which affect me personally in order to stay motivated in the long run. If these issues are worth building a business around I'm expanding my horizon into related issues and try to figure out what related issue has the biggest impact, and that's where I start to focus on.

    As such for Skyhop, the focus went from automated flight track registration, to flight analysis, to a digital logbook. The features are still there, but now they make the core offering much stronger, instead of being stand-alone features.

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