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Where do you come up with your startup ideas

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Daniel Pitta

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Just curious, as I consider myself to have an entrepreneurial mindset, strive to escape the corporate rat race, etc. but I feel like with every good idea I have, I come to find out that there are already umpteen existing products/companies that do the same thing and have been in existence for years.

I currently work in medical device sales, for a national distributor. Since I work for a distributor, I don't have to physically be at hospitals/clinics in order to make sales/commission. I make my own schedule, and work remote as much as I want, so long as my accounts are ordering their product through my company. Luckily I've been successful at this role, and it has given me a small taste of what it's like to be financially free and make residual income.

However, I'll never have control over my finances. In sales, you're literally punished for your production and success with rising quotas, effectively making it more difficult to get paid. You also always have to deal with the bullshit Corporate politics, micro-managing, etc.

I've been focused on real estate investing as a way to sidestep my difficulty in figuring out a good concept for an online business. I plan to relocate to NC next year where the market is reasonable (I live in DC). I have no real estate experience and am in no way a handyman, but I've been willing to learn as much as possible in order to best prepare myself for this venture. However I only view real estate investing as an added revenue stream, and don't view it as my fastlane business idea - I'm sure many would disagree.

I've tossed around a few ideas in the past, but don't think that they can scale. I'm curious how all of you come up with your business ideas, and also curious how you move on from the 'dream' stage of your startup idea, to the 'action' stage, without having any startup experience, business acumen, or reliable contacts who would be willing to work with you on your concept. Thanks in advance

@MJ DeMarco
 

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MetalGear

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I started this journey about a year ago and had a ton of great ideas that were hard to scale.

  1. Take a month to brainstorm as much as you can
  2. Bring a paper and pad with you everywhere so you can write ideas down as you get them
  3. Take your ideas and morph them, give them a twist, how would it work in another industry/setting?
  4. Make a list of the ideas
  5. Rank them in order by what you can execute today with the given resources you have now
  6. Execute
 
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Daniel Pitta

Daniel Pitta

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I started this journey about a year ago and had a ton of great ideas that were hard to scale.

  1. Take a month to brainstorm as much as you can
  2. Bring a paper and pad with you everywhere so you can write ideas down as you get them
  3. Take your ideas and morph them, give them a twist, how would it work in another industry/setting?
  4. Make a list of the ideas
  5. Rank them in order by what you can execute today with the given resources you have now
  6. Execute
Thanks for the feedback. I agree with everything you stated, especially #1. I was just on the phone yesterday with a friend of mine (online business owner) and we both agreed that it's critically important to carve out 'me' time in order to brainstorm and research your ideas. Just sitting down, thinking, reflecting READING, watching youtube videos, etc. is paramount; I think that has been a big issue for me lately as I've been on the go so often that I haven't made enough time to just be by myself and spitball ideas.

I remember reading a Forbes article on Travis Kalanick and he attributed much of Uber's innovation to their 'jam sessions' where he and his staff bounce ideas off of one another and tune out the noise around them - that always resonated with me.
 

minivanman

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I think I sometimes pull them out of my a$$ :)

Just like love..... if you just relax and go about your normal life, it will come to you. Same thing with ideas. Don't push it.

The other day I was driving along and had a hell of an idea! I text my business partner and told him to call me ASAP!!!! I was so excited. He was in a meeting so he called when he got out. I told him my idea and he asked if he had accidentally called me and I was listening to his meeting. I was confused but I said.... nooooooo. He said the billion dollar company that he works for was just talking about the same thing with a client. So all-in-all, it was a hell of an idea but he said it would be too complicated for us to do. My point is.... I wasn't TRYING to think of an idea, I was just driving along and it came to me. I can sit here all day long and try to think of an idea and search the inter webs for days and come up dry but if you just let it go...... something will come to you and it will probably be more satisfying than if you are pushing yourself to find something.
 

Chx

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In regards to this:
I feel like with every good idea I have, I come to find out that there are already umpteen existing products/companies that do the same thing
remember that you don't need to be the first -- you just need to provide the most value. If you read TMF, you know that MJ's limousine company wasn't the first of its kind, but it succeeded because it provided more value than the competitors. It might be hard to overtake a massive company like Facebook, but in general, taking an idea and improving on it rather than coming up with a blockbuster idea yourself is a feasible path.

Just my two cents
 

minivanman

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I agree. In my story above, we would not have been afraid to go with my idea had it not been so complicated (it would have involved Google/Bing/Yahoo!, in other words a real pita), we just have another huge project in the works and he didn't think it was a good idea to do them both at the same time. Our big project we are planning will take on some heavy hitters but we ain't skeered. lol We are actually working off the things they do wrong and won't change. Don't be skeered of the competition, just be better. Because if you can't be better, why would a customer use you anyway?
 

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Find a company/ biz model you like and know well. Do it different and/or better. Don't try to reinvent the wheel, priority is getting moving, making sales, however ugly it looks at the time.
 
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Daniel Pitta

Daniel Pitta

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The other day I was driving along and had a hell of an idea! I text my business partner and told him to call me ASAP!!!! I was so excited. He was in a meeting so he called when he got out. I told him my idea and he asked if he had accidentally called me and I was listening to his meeting. I was confused but I said.... nooooooo. He said the billion dollar company that he works for was just talking about the same thing with a client. So all-in-all, it was a hell of an idea but he said it would be too complicated for us to do.
Why was it too complicated?
 

Lex DeVille

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I'd say my ideas come from 2 places:

1) Observation

For instance, this morning I was walking through the house, looked down at a baby item and thought to myself...I wonder if they make this for adults. The next thought was...If I'm wondering this, probably 10,000 other people are too. Then it became...That would make a great Shark Tank product. So I wrote it down and tucked it away for a later time.

2) Storytelling

With this route the product doesn't matter, because it's story-focused (this is the route I'm pursuing now on the Insiders forum). Virtually any product will do as long as I can wrap it in an amazing story that connects with a large enough audience, and lets them engage with my brand.

An example of this that I almost pursued, but decided not to was soap. The story I wanted to wrap around it was the idea of a soap cult. Product was ordinary, but the story was extraordinary.


Soap Cult.jpg

At first I thought the idea was pretty crazy. Then I was in the shower looking at our body wash and realized Dr. Bronner's already did this. :D



Now, that doesn't mean the idea wasn't worth pursuing. There's a million ways to differentiate. I decided not to, but that's just an example of how some of my ideas work.

• Observe world around me and try to improve it or...
• Random product + unique story = standout brand.

With either route, I move forward if I think it's worth it. How fast can I bring this thing to life? How likely is it to succeed? How likely am I to get bored with it after a month? What's the initial investment? How much time do I need to dedicate to this and do I have that time? Basically it's a bunch of questions, but if it gives me that feeling of if this takes off it's gonna be awesome, then I just do it (unless I'm already working on the last great idea, then I tuck it away for later).
 

jpanarra

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Ideas are SHIT.

Ideas are a dime a dozen, and they come up all the time when you're in the shower or drinking your morning coffee.

I've noticed its not the Idea that matters, its what you decide to do with the Idea.

I was like you and I had to learn this the hard way. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to work on other skills first before even thinking about coming up with a 'blue ocean' idea which will make you millions of dollars.

Skills that I suggest you start working on.
  • Sales - If you don't want to 'sell' give up now.
  • Delegation - Know what areas you're weak on or just simply don't want to do and have someone else do it. On top of that know what to pay for it.
  • Fiscal Budgeting (Personal Finance) - If you can't handle your own personal budget, imagine what you'll do to a business.
  • Scheduling - Keep yourself committed, Consistency is the hardest thing about being a entrepreneur IMO. Its easy to ride an idea for 3 months, but for 5 years is what makes or breaks people.
You don't need a brand new IDEA to do those things. Start with a $240 dollar lawnmower and sell your mowing services over the weekend and see if you can last 2-3 months. Then delegate it to someone and get a 2nd lawnmower.. Schedule your time.. Budget your money to reinvest... then grow.

Apply this formula to anything and you got your business.
 

Iammelissamoore

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I wasn't TRYING to think of an idea , I was just driving along and it came to me. I can sit here all day long and try to think of an idea and search the inter webs for days and come up dry but if you just let it go...... something will come to you and it will probably be more satisfying than if you are pushing yourself to find something.
- ABSOLUTELY AGREE.

After having read Unscripted, which enforced the TMF principles and now, with proper overstanding of Producer-Mindset and paying attention to fulfilling needs, same thing, ideas come to me without putting any effort into seeking ideas, and the ideas that come actually attends to the commandments and other ideals outlined in the books.

Surely, it doesn't mean that every-single-idea will be materialised, but, it offers a plethora of opportunities to diversify and extend entrepreneurship abilities.

I absolutely agree, when we fight something too hard, it only runs further away, but when we allow things to flow, while being productively engaged in other arenas, great ideas will come and we can proceed in making them a reality and true success, by applying the Knowledge.
 

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Iammelissamoore

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I agree. In my story above, we would not have been afraid to go with my idea had it not been so complicated (it would have involved Google/Bing/Yahoo!, in other words a real pita), we just have another huge project in the works and he didn't think it was a good idea to do them both at the same time. Our big project we are planning will take on some heavy hitters but we ain't skeered. lol We are actually working off the things they do wrong and won't change. Don't be skeered of the competition, just be better. Because if you can't be better, why would a customer use you anyway?
You definitely hit the nail on the head. I used to be afraid of "going too big", "not being able to beat competition", "getting pushed out", but now, as the great ideas come along, I ain't "skeered" - lol - because indeed, to take just one itsy-bitsy component being ignored by the saturated masses and perfect it, that alone can change the game. I have seen it so many times between tiny companies and their larger, competitive counterparts, it's refreshing. What this also proves is that in reality, there IS room for everyone - small, medium, large entrereneurs - once we tune in and apply ourselves successfully.
 

happybhoy

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I always say the best way to do business is to be in business. I was driving myself mad trying to come up with that unique fastlane business idea. I just chose a side hustle - think copywriting, digital marketing, video/photography, web design etc - and dived in. Now the problem is staying away from the shiny objects and hitting my goals for the now full time hustle.
 

fvcorp

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Ignore your competition. Every idea that comes to mind will have competition if you do a google search. Even if it doesn't, if the idea works for you, you can be certain that there will be hundreds of copycats that follow you.

Let your Prove Out phase determine the value of your concept. When you choose an idea, find the least expensive way to test it. For a clothing brand, this could be selling it on a street corner or at a night club. Generally, if one person likes your product (or more) and is willing to buy it, then that is a sign to continue.
 

eliquid

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The best ideas ( for me and in my experience ) have came when I wasn't pushing it.

Like, in the shower. On the toilet. Driving around with no goal trying to clear my head. And also trying to scratch my own itch.

They also come from a place of authority. What are you an authority in?

Of note, you don't have to be THE authority or even a large authority. It could even be perceived authority. What's important is, in your sphere of influence.. what do people look to you for when they need answers to something?

Also, I'm more of an idea person than an execution person. That's not to say I don't believe in execution or think it's worthless at all, I just put more emphasis on the idea instead of counting execution worthless.

.
 

minivanman

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Why was it too complicated?
We have another project that he would rather do and it was started first. It will also be easier and be making profit faster. My idea is just kind of a pita..... it was brilliant if I do say-so myself, but it would take a lot of time. And who is to say that someone hasn't already started on it. It will take a few years just to get it started. It's a complicated but high profit idea. I like the quick ones but if no one has done it in a few years from now we might give it a shot.
 
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Daniel Pitta

Daniel Pitta

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The best ideas ( for me and in my experience ) have came when I wasn't pushing it.

Like, in the shower. On the toilet. Driving around with no goal trying to clear my head. And also trying to scratch my own itch.

They also come from a place of authority. What are you an authority in?

Of note, you don't have to be THE authority or even a large authority. It could even be perceived authority. What's important is, in your sphere of influence.. what do people look to you for when they need answers to something?

Also, I'm more of an idea person than an execution person. That's not to say I don't believe in execution or think it's worthless at all, I just put more emphasis on the idea instead of counting execution worthless.

.
How do you effectively move from the idea stage to the execution stage? Do you have a business partner that's more focused on execution than dreaming up ideas?
 

Private Witt

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A few years ago I wrote an article on the Seattle Hemp Fest and took a picture of two random rappers walking around. The article went on a city activity blog.

I ended up developing a cannabis related information site based of the extremely positive response to the article within the local industry. I also developed a relationship with the rappers over time through a series of articles.

Fast forward a 1.5 years later and the rappers have blown up (hightlighted at SXSW this month and just off tour with major name grammy winning OG) and the relationship with them led me to get into music event productions. I will be rolling out some things this summer and will be having a massive event by the end of the year with some amazing names and a great story behind the whole experience.​
 

eliquid

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How do you effectively move from the idea stage to the execution stage? Do you have a business partner that's more focused on execution than dreaming up ideas?
With a massively good idea, a little execution can go a long way.

Ever try to massively execute on a terrible idea though? You get almost nowhere with it no matter the amount of execution.

Thus why I focus more on the idea than the execution.

As far as moving from idea to execution, I think everyone is going to be different.

Notice a lot of my "ideas" come from when I am alone or "recharging". That's because I'm an introvert, an INTJ. If you need background on what you might be, see:
So for execution, it's going to be the same setup and flow.

I have a partner in my current business, but for other projects and business stuff I have done a lot of it by myself.

I solve all my own problems too which makes it easier to execute on. I presented on this at the Fastline Summit and the whys/in and outs.

Once mine are solved, it's opened up to the public.

People are too wrapped up in the execution phase. Let me tell you something.. people don't give 2 shits how you execute on their problem, they just want the problem solved.

Do I care if you use a snowblower, or a flamethrower to remove the snow off my driveway? NO, I just want the snow gone.

So if you have a great idea that solves a problem for others, you only need to get the problem solved for your execution. That could be 34 steps, or just 3. As long as you solve their problems, most people don't care.

People buy hammers for holes in the wall. You can also put a hole in the wall using a block of wood instead. As long as the right hole is there and the right size, does anyone really care? No.

You just gotta take it step by step, know who you are yourself, and know what you want and schedule time to make it happen. You also need to be an authority, if not.. then don't get into something long term as the end result will show in your work.

.
 
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johnp

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I solve all my own problems too which makes it easier to execute on.
This is something that I have been noticing more of lately.

For example, whenever I find a successful business, I look at the founder's background. More often than not, the founder is either solving their own pain in the beginning, or has some sort of previous experience with it. Examples:

- There's this AdWords Product that I use to save time with account optimizations. The founder worked at Google first and helped build the AdWords platform. He saw a huge pain and solved it.

- The CEO for my company only started the company to solve a pain point for one of his clients 20 years ago when he was a freelancer of some sort. Now he has an 7 figure company.

- I came across a successful online self-defense eCommerce store a few months back. The owner was an ex-cop.

- Limos.com... MJ was a limo driver.

- The guy on Shark tank who created the indoor grass for dogs to pee on had a dog that kept peeing in the apartment.

The list goes on and on.

I also have noticed that when I try to come up with a business idea or product that doesn't solve one of my pains or is in an industry that I don't understand, then I have more trouble executing on it. It's like I'm trying to drive a car without gas. But when I start solving problems around my own life and experiences, things get easier. It took me way too many years to realize this. Now my problem is focusing on the right idea and problems to solve.
 

RobD88

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Ideas are sh*t.

Ideas are a dime a dozen, and they come up all the time when you're in the shower or drinking your morning coffee.
I disagree. Ideas without action are sh*t. Every great business started with a great idea. The difference between a great idea and a great business is action.

To that point @jpanarra is right, learn the skills you need to take action (i.e. sales) but above all else take action. Most of the posts on here have given you ideas on creating ideas. For me it's listening to what frustrates people or has frustrated me and trying to come up with a solution. I often ask people if money were no object, what one thing would you pay to have solved OR what's the one thing you would pay any amount of money to fix/change. You'll get some vague answers but some will give you great ideas for products or services that will solve the problem. That may also give you an idea on how much money you can make off of a solution.

Then vet out a solution, if you can make money on it you have a winner. Then write down all the steps you need to implement the idea and take action.
 

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eliquid

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I also have noticed that when I try to come up with a business idea or product that doesn't solve one of my pains or is in an industry that I don't understand, then I have more trouble executing on it.
This is exactly what I spoke on at the summit last month.

When I am scratching my own itch, I know I'm more than likely an authority on it in some way because I understand it inside and out.

I just recently did a podcast touching on it some:
Podcast 15 - Easiest Way To Break $10,000 A Month

.
 

csalvato

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With a massively good idea, a little execution can go a long way.
I've never quite heard it phrased this way. It aligns really well with looking for F*ck YEA moments in the market.

If, when you put your idea out there, you're immediately greeted with "F*ck YEA", then it won't take too much work to have it grow and build.

If you put it out there and the response is "meh" then you can put a monumental amount of work and execution out there and never actually have anything take off.
 

eliquid

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I've never quite heard it phrased this way. It aligns really well with looking for f*ck YEA moments in the market.

If, when you put your idea out there, you're immediately greeted with "f*ck YEA", then it won't take too much work to have it grow and build.

If you put it out there and the response is "meh" then you can put a monumental amount of work and execution out there and never actually have anything take off.
Yes, something that is a great idea that everyone else says is "F' Yeah" will only take a little grease to get off the ground. It also does something to you mentally to keep pushing a bit harder on it.

With a terrible idea that no one wants and is "meh" about, not only will it take a lot more execution to work.. but mentally it can get challenging to yourself to want to stick with it long term.

.
 

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