I think a lot of conceivable startups have already been conceived. A lot of workable business ideas have already been worked out. How did you manage to conceive your startup idea?
All is well if you have a pain and you know how to solve it. But let's say current technologies and tools are already adequate for your need? How did you conceive a startup idea even though you don't have any problem of your own to solve?
From the question:
"a lot of conceivable startups have already been conceived, a lot of workable business ideas have already been worked out"That's like saying a lot of music has already been written. Of course it has, but there's always another song. And there's always another new solution to the world's problems.
Start writing down every idea you have. Every idea. Even if it's not something you think you could even solve. The point is to get yourself in the habit of writing down ideas. Once they are written down, you can research and refine them.
I use the notepad on my iPhone because I have it with me all the time. Sometimes I spend time just thinking about ideas, but most of the time the ideas pop up in the course of my normal activities. I've trained myself to listen and be aware of what people are saying and look for ways I can alleviate pain.
I regularly review my list of ideas. Many of them have already been done, but that isn't a reason for discouragement. It proves that I have great ideas! Someone I follow on Twitter just posted about his need for what one of the ideas already on my list solves. That idea is getting moved up!
One of my ideas would take millions of dollars to pull off. That one is probably dropping to the bottom of the list.
I am currently working on launching and/or prototyping 3 of my ideas. I think my problem now is that I have too many good ideas and I don't have the capacity to pursue them all.
If there is anything about history, this argument of "a lot of conceivable startups have already been conceived" has been proven wrong again and again. Imagine if Henry Ford thought the same line a century ago. Maybe we all still riding a horse today.
There are heaps of problems waiting to be solved. http://www.project10tothe100.com/ideas.html Go out there and help make the ideas become reality.
Most good startups are conceived by frustration over current solutions - so unless the world is perfect 'I think a lot of conceivable startups have already been conceived' is completely incorrect.
For us, I tried paying for a tool - that didn't work. So I built a prototype - and that failed. A dozen iterations later, we got the technology side working so that we are happy with. Similarly on the business side, I talked to alot of people who would be interested in joining our company and would be interested in using the product - and I learnt more of what is needed in a solution.
A good startup is often based on someone's pain, and (IMO) iterated alot with feedback from others.
Hendro's right. But I'd stick with solving your own pain. Focusing on things you need versus things other people need is exponentially easier. The quality of the things you produce is so much better, just because you have a harder time letting things slide because you depend on them working well.
"All is well if you have a pain in ass and you know how to solve it. But let's say current technologies and tools are already adequate for your need?"
That can't be always true. No way! :) There must be something that frustrates you. Look at how finding a startup idea frustrates you, it sounds like. Is there a solution in there for you?
Or go take one of the tools you use today to accomplish something. Do you use it enough? If you started becoming more of a power user does it start to get more frustrating? Go to a support forum for one of these tools you use. Are their problems something that is actually your problem if you were using the tool more?
Another good way to get inspiration is to just increase the frequency of trying out new projects. People who consult independently are usually in a good place to do this. They don't work on the same exact system for years like many employees are. When you work on the same system for years you get comfortable, and that's not good. For people who run independent consulting shops, they often get to work on at least a few projects a year for different clients. Seeing new industries. Having to work with their clients different ways and solving different problems. There's more discomfort for yourself in doing something like that, which can lead to more things that need solutions.
I approached it from this angle.....
First, I asked, what technology is big, expensive, complicated, and only available to the large companies that can afford the software and all of the consultants and support staff around it.
Then, I've looked for one of those systems that could be packaged up and marketed it in a much simpler, more accessible, and cheaper format.
Democratizing and commoditizing technology is a well trodden path....
Look at the iPhone which is heralded as revolutionary, but in my eyes is only an evolutionary step - a simpler, glossier PDA/Smart Phone, executed brilliantly and targeted at the consumer.
many people did this by simply thinking about problems in their own lives and researched solutions only to find there isn't one out there. So, they made one...
I believe the success of a startup is very much in the execution rather than the originating idea.
You could try learning more about the business aspects of an industry you have an interest in. Find out what some of their domain-specific challenges are and see if you can get inspired and come up with a creative solution. Ultimately though I think it's not so much the idea but the implementation of an idea that counts in the long run.
Mine didn't come about by sitting down and brainstorming. I think most come about through a particular set of circumstances and an underlying interest in starting a business.
My personal route was I did an MBA. Completely useless on it's own, just buzz-words. But it got me interested in Busineess Process Modelling, so I started working on an open source BPM solution. While doing that we needed the visualization for that system and my interest shifted to that. For that visualization I used another open source project and saw a market there. I co-founded with the author of that project and so on for the next 8 years.
Follow your interests, talk to people. That's it.
You can think of why you are NOT paying for someone else's solution to a problem you have, and compete against them, just do it better and solve the problem how you would rather it be solved.
Usually your initial idea of what the market needs will be completely wrong. So, it's good to fail fast.
In my case, I created a few small "test" products to see how my target market work. I read blogs and learned about my market for 12 months before I found the real pain point -- and it was completely different from my "test" products.