Keep a Google Spreadsheet of Business Ideas

Some entrepreneurs come up with ideas at a rapid rate while others struggle on the ideation side and are amazing at execution. Regardless of entrepreneur type, there’s a little idea I’m a big fan of: keep an ongoing Google Spreadsheet of business ideas. It could just as well be in Evernote or some other system, but I like Google Spreadsheets for quickly glancing at ideas and sorting them by different categories.

Here are some situations that are great for generating business ideas:

  • When you’re shopping for a good or service and get price quotes that are significantly higher than what you expected, there could be an opportunity
  • When you find a business problem and can’t find a solution (this is how Pardot came about)
  • When you encounter a business challenge where there are solutions but they aren’t elegant
  • When you see a trend emerging that is clearly going to have a major impact, especially if you’ve seen a pattern before (e.g. analytics are a big deal for web sites and with the rise of mobile apps, analytics wil be a big deal for them as well)

Yes, keeping a spreadsheet of ideas is common sense, but most people don’t do it. If you are an entrepreneur or want to be an entrepreneur, start recording your ideas now.

What else? What are some other situations that are great for generating business ideas?

5 thoughts on “Keep a Google Spreadsheet of Business Ideas

  1. Amen, David! We’ve experienced some big wins by making sure that everyone’s ideas are surfaced to the entire team for discussion and iteration. Turns out that even small, tactical ideas can quickly morph into something bigger when vetted through different perspectives. Now, if only there were an app that treated ideas as a first-class citizen 😉

  2. I started doing this about six months ago and personally I feel that writing down your ideas helps you come up with more ideas. It makes you do something and helps you think a bit more. It actively engages you in finding problems in the world.

    Another situation I’d add to your list is the, “there has to be a better way to do this” situation. For example, I was in a dressing room about a month ago trying on some clothes. I wanted a second opinion so I sent a Snapchat to a few of my girl friends. Some replied through text and others through Snapchat. As I was putting my own clothes back on, it kind of hit me. Why are my friends and I using multiple mediums of communication for this feedback? There should be a specific way to get this sort of feedback without relying on MMS, SMS, Snapchat, etc. Past friends, why not provide people with a way to crowd-source wardrobe opinions?

    A few weeks later I discovered a company through TechCrunch, Go Try It On, who was acquired by Rent The Runway.

    The takeaway: I’m getting better at finding problems in my life rather than accepting my current workarounds. I believe writing down my ideas has helped this process.

  3. Just create the habit of coming up with ideas that are worthwhile. I am forcing myself in 2014 to blog one idea per day. Practise makes perfect is not just a saying. You can train yourself in quickly finding creative solutions for almost anything.

    My personal goal and ambition is to come up with a lot of ideas, pick one early 2015 and start a business around it with someone that compliments me.

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