A start-up idea is basically your hypothesis explaining why your company could grow quickly. Think of this as a three-step process.
The first step consists of identifying the issues and conditions that have contributed to the problem. You want to find an urgent problem that a lot of people share—and is growing. Ideally, pick one that is expensive to solve. That way, you can charge more for the solution. Also, do not pick a problem that applies to everyone nor one that applies to a limited audience.
The second step consists of a solution that, when applied to the problem, allows the solution to scale quickly – preferably promoted by the current and growing user base. Do not pick a solution in search of a problem. In other words, don’t think of something cool to invent or code and then go looking for the problem to solve. I’ve seen people do this with blockchain. They think “the technology is cool, but how can we apply it?” Start with the problem, and don’t try to shoehorn a solution into a make-believe problem.
Finally, why is your solution going to be successful? This is the hard one. Think of it this way—what is the unfair advantage that allows your idea to be the one that grows exponentially?
Here are some possible unfair advantages:
- Founder advantage: You know something that no one else knows or you own the patent.
- Growth advantage: You have the solution to a problem that is growing significantly year after year.
- Product advantage: Your solution is at least tenfold better than any competitor.
- Acquisition advantage: Your acquisition path does not cost anything (i.e., it grows by word of mouth).
- Monopoly advantage: As you grow, you get stronger, thereby making it more difficult for any other company to overtake you.
Once you’ve got an idea that seems viable, how do you take that idea and move it further into the real world?
First, run your idea by some people who’ll force you to think critically. Second, put it down on paper. You’ll need to go through the mechanics of putting together a one-page business plan that will cover many of the issues you’ll need to address. This will include the idea, the problem you are trying to solve, competitive analysis, funding, short- and long-term goals, and other practical concerns.
Is finding a great business idea a challenge? Yes, it is. But the good news is, once you find an idea which, after vetting, seems genuinely worth pursuing, the remaining steps will prove a good deal easier. Remember to rejoice in the journey. By pinpointing a great business idea, you’ve not only identified something of potentially great financial benefit, but you may have also learned something about yourself along the way.
Being an entrepreneur can make you a better physician. You’ve just taken the first steps toward writing a life changing prescription for your future.