Where have you found inspiration for a business idea?


I've found myself interested in starting a business for a long time now. Every now and again I come up with a promising idea, but after a few hours of running numbers in a spreadsheet or few conversations with a friend/potential business partner, the idea turns out to be not so good after all.

I think my issue is that I have a really good job, and the prospect of bootstrapping a startup and potentially not bringing in enough money is hard to accept.

Anyone else run into this? What was it about your business idea that pushed you to make the leap?

Business Model Business Plan

asked Nov 26 '10 at 14:35
298 points
Get up to $750K in working capital to finance your business: Clarify Capital Business Loans
  • Perhaps you should consider changing the title of your question. As I understand your question, the question itself came out somewhat different from the title. :-) – Jesper Mortensen 13 years ago

4 Answers


You're looking in the wrong place. The answer to whether you should start a startup or not is not found in the business plan -- it is in you.

I think my issue is that I have a really good job, and the prospect of bootstrapping a startup and potentially not bringing in enough money is hard to accept.

If you start a startup you will have anxiety and you will have long periods with tonnes of work and very little or no income. Do not launch a startup on the basis of a temporary or weak motivation. Launch a startup if you feel strongly drawn to it, even knowing that it will be damn hard.

Sometimes understanding ones own feelings can actually be really difficult. Here are two filters that can sometimes help clarify feelings:

  • Imagine yourself lying on your death bed. Make it vivid, think of the people around you, and your accomplishments in life. Ask yourself: "If I didn't launch a startup, will I deeply regret this later on?"
  • Over a period of time, keep a diary of the instances where you think of launching a startup. For each instance, ask yourself a) how did it make me feel, did it elevate my mood or not? and b) what went before thinking of a startup, did I fx have a really bad day at work? Do this over a longer period then review it, and you should see a pattern emerging.
( There is one special exception worth mentioning. Some people are themselves strongly drawn to doing a startup, but hold back due to family obligations -- thinking of the spouse and kids. This case is difficult, and it's hard to give good advice here. One possible way to proceed is to a) discuss the matter deeply with the spouse, and b) try building a business very gradually working in the evenings and weekends, while keeping your day job, and seeing how it feels. )
answered Nov 26 '10 at 18:05
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points
  • I'll second this. A friend and I came up with an idea for a startup. It was something we knew how to build. It was something no potential customers we talked to had seen, but all of them were excited about the idea. Still, if we weren't committed to the project, if we weren't certain we could do a great job, we wouldn't try. If the risk seems too great, it's either because you don't want it bad enough or the idea isn't good. Wait until you can't say no, then go for it. – Dan Udey 13 years ago
  • I would also add that you don't need to have overnight success. Taking the long road should still get you where you need to go. I'm working on a night and weekend project myself. – Scott 13 years ago


The first thing is to have passion for your idea that you will work on it for free.
The second thing is figure out if people will actually pay you for it. This is the hard part since you really never know the worth of your product until it's actually built and people buy it.

My general rule on ideas is that they have to solve a problem that people are having or they will soon have. I don't really care about the technology "coolness" nor if it's the latest, greatest trend -- just that it solves a problem people will pay for.

As an aside, your method of having the idea and then running the numbers is spot on. That's the way to really vet the cool idea from the make money idea.

answered Nov 27 '10 at 07:04
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points


May I suggest Rob Walling "Start small, Stay Small" book?

The start of book deals with the task of selecting a suitable market and testing it for viability without spending a fortune (and also not needing to use a spreadsheet). Its not the only route, but even despite the fact that I have loads of potential business ideas I had never thought of formulating how I arrive at them in the way Rob outlines.

As another poster suggests, the idea needs to come from you and for you to beleive in the idea (even if you use a method like Rob suggests to find the idea). No point just following a business idea you don't beleive in or find boring (that is why I don't work in the communications - its vital but I don't find it interesting, so I look elsewhere).

answered Dec 4 '10 at 02:06
Stephen Kellett
131 points


Starting a company is going to be one of the hardest things you do, and you may not be prepared for it. The general idea behind starting a startup is that you're taking 40 years of your work life, and boiling it down into 4.

This quote by Joe Kraus (Cofounder - Excite) just about sums up how you will feel:

“The hardest part in a startup is that
you wake up one morning and you feel
great about the day, and you think,
“We’re kicking ass.” And then you wake
up the next morning and you think
“We’re dead.” And literally nothing’s
changed. You haven’t made some big
deal, you haven’t sold something new.
Maybe you wrote a few lines of code
over the course of that last day.
Maybe you had some conversations with
people, but nothing’s really moved.
It’s completely irrational, but it’s
exactly what you go through.”

Here are some questions I would ask myself before starting any new idea:

  1. Am I passionate about the idea that I have come up with. Have I have been thinking about it for a long time (over a month)? Can I not fall asleep because I am excited everynight about the idea?
  2. Who else is working on this idea (there will be someone)? Do I have the skills to pull it off? Can I find people to help me with my weaknesses?
  3. Am I able to deal with responsibility? Am I a good communicator? Am I empathetic and can I relate to my customers?

This isn't an all encompassing list, but i would definitely evaluate myself as a person before embarking out on a new company. A lot of it is just being able to take the hardships in stride and not getting discouraged when things go wrong (which almost everything will).

answered Jan 28 '11 at 05:55
Andy Cook
2,309 points

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Business Model Business Plan