Possible Duplicate: Where to draw ideas from?
My hope is by asking this question, that many of you who are very proficient in doing a start-up would be able to enlighten some of us who just come to OnStartups to learn from your experience (in addition to the other thought provoking articles that are posted here).
I consider myself a very passionate software developer, despite having (in my opinion) moderate technical ability. I am a father & husband, but continue to seek out time to learn new language features as well as understand emerging technologies and experiment by creating rudimentary examples of what I have learned.
I frequently hear that ideas are cheap, and implementation is difficult. I feel ready to apply myself to start a project, but have difficulty identifying missed opportunities that would likely prove to be profitable. I've stumbled upon a few myself (such as lacking competition in markets like music instrument rental as an example) but struggle to come up with those ideas on my own and have been restless waiting to arrive at an idea that lines up with my personal interests.
Most business ideas start from the desire to scratch your own itch: problems you encounter in your personal or professional lives. Pay more attention to what annoys you in everyday life and take notes possible solutions.
Another source of ideas is news. Read about new technologies (API hooks included) and studies and use your imagination to figure out how the information can be monetized.
However, when you find an opportunity you're passionate about, make sure to validate it with 10-20 potential users (use but not pay) and customers (pay but may not use). The 2 aspects that need validation are 1) whether they will use it and 2) whether they will pay for it. Start building only when you have positive answers to both or you risk wasting a lot of resources.