Ben Meisner is the founder of the leading online photo editing platform Ribbet.com†
Of $321 billion unicorn companies in Europe and start-ups around the world $158 billion In the third quarter of 2021 alone, it seems easier than ever to find investment money, start your own business and pursue your dream, regardless of location or background.
But how do you discover that business idea that takes you from zero to one, as Peter Thiel described it in his entrepreneur handbook Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future† How do you find that thing that hasn’t been done yet – that thing that will drive your passion for years to come? Sure, there are still unanswered questions, but with advances in technology, science, and innovation, it seems that gem of an idea is getting harder to find.
Looking back on my 20+ years of entrepreneurship, I can see that when I started a business in the past, I was chasing an opportunity that just happened to present itself. Now that I’m ready to start a new venture, I feel like a more strategic approach is needed. Below are the questions that personally help me research my next business idea, and I hope they help you too.
What is a craft you like to lose yourself in?
It’s hard to keep the long-term excitement of running a business alive, so over time productivity has to be continued through discipline. But to take that first step toward finding your business idea, you need to find a craft that you’ll enjoy working on for years to come – the one you’ll love to get lost in.
What were you doing the last time you got lost in work?
I love exploring ideas and the process of creating something from scratch. I am very passionate about creativity and amplifying it, and every time I do this, it seems like time flies by. Take some time to think back to the last time you enjoyed the hours that flew by, and explore that direction.
What is a specific challenge that you personally face?
You may not realize that one of the problems you are facing is a common problem. Something that you have not found a solution for in your work or in your personal life can very well frustrate others in the same situation. Starting with something you love that would also solve a personal problem has double the benefits.
What will your startup look like in five years?
The initial excitement of starting a new venture often makes us overlook the need for a business to continue operating well into the future. I’ve noticed that entrepreneurs often look at short-term key performance indicators, but having a long-term view can make the difference between success and failure. Also, without limiting yourself, try to imagine what that future might look like and what you could do to make it possible.
What can you do better than other people?
What is your specialty, experience or advantage? Perhaps ask your friends, colleagues, or partner for their opinion on this question. We often underestimate or diminish our strengths and consider something we can do easily as unusual. Having specifically developed skills can be a great foundation for a future business.
If there was no money involved and no time or other resource constraints, what would you do?
This may sound cliché, but it is in fact a very important question. We are always limited by various constraints, and time and money are the most common. But if you could do whatever you wanted every day without worrying about finances or time, what would it be? You may find the answer surprising. I strongly believe that if you do something with passion, you are on the right track. Either success or failure will follow, but it will be an enjoyable journey either way.
Who do you admire who made something?
Role models or people who simply inspire you with their achievements can provide a strong clue as to what your new business idea might look like. What have those people created and what specifically do you admire about it? Is that something you would like to create, achieve or do? Go in-depth with these questions. What are the underlying character traits that you find attractive, and what is it about their companies that piques your interest?
Finding an idea in 2022 is not easy. Having a process helps, as does having a community with which to build ideas. There is certainly room for innovation, creativity, new technologies, for-profit companies, non-profit organizations and completely new approaches to how we work, live and experience the world. These questions can help you on your way to a new venture.