I fundamentally disagree with the concept of sitting down, staring out an open window, and asking the question, “What should I make?”
I’m beginning to think this applies far outside just the realm of business. Everything in life, no matter what it is you’re building or making, requires iteration. Which means “success” is the ability to get to and through that iterative process as quickly, but effectively, as possible.
For proof, look no further than the people who come up with ideas all day, every day, but never actually bring a project to completion.
The best ideas always begin with an experience.
The best novels are inspired by the grumpy grandma that lives in the apartment down the hall.
The best movies unfold from a script someone started writing in a late-night diner, watching people walk in and out at two in the morning.
The best shoes are made after the worst shoes were worn.
The best products start as solutions two people in a dorm room wanted to build for themselves.
And the best businesses begin the moment someone says to you, “I really wish someone could help me.” If you can help that person solve a problem, congratulations: you’re in business.
Which means the real question is, “How do I build a scalable business I won’t get bored of, or frustrated by, over the long term?”
Finding business ideas isn’t the hard part. Business ideas are everywhere.
Listen close, and people will tell you exactly what they’re looking for — to your face.
The challenge is figuring out what sort of business interests you enough to stick with it through thick and thin. For example: when I was a kid, I used to mow lawns to make extra money in the summer. People gave me that business idea on a silver platter: “I wish I had someone reliable to mow my lawn every week.”
I solved that problem, and they paid me in return.
Now, I could have expanded that into a business, hired other kids, trained them up to mow lawns just like me. But I didn’t want to — and that’s a really important distinction. I liked having extra money as a teenager, but I didn’t love mowing lawns. I didn’t love grass. I didn’t always love the people I worked for. I didn’t love lugging grass bags to the end of every driveway. I hated when I’d pour the grass from the lawnmower into a bag, and the bag would topple over, and I’d have to pick up all the grass clippings with my hands. I really despised the whole process.
In this scenario, a lot of people would say, “That’s why you hire people to do the work for you!”