The #1 Question to Ask When Looking for a Startup Idea

This past week I was talking to a potential entrepreneur and he asked about startup ideas, markets, fundraising, and more. After sharing that I believe market selection is the main determinant for the scale of success, we started riffing on different startup ideas. He asked where the best startup ideas come from and I shared my favorite strategy. Ready for it? Ask an entrepreneur you respect the following question:

If you weren’t working on your current business, what business would you start?

Entrepreneurs, by definition, are active in their own company looking for ways to grow, improve, and generally win. Because they’re deep in their own idea, they’ve already gone through the process of evaluating markets, selecting an idea, and finding product/market fit.

Once an entrepreneur has gone through this process, they can’t help but see other startup ideas. New sales/marketing/product/finance/people challenge? Potential startup idea to fix it. A new process or strategy that’s working well? Potential startup idea to productize it.

Startup ideas are everywhere. Entrepreneurs in the arena are uniquely attune to opportunities that would make their own business better. And, knowing what they now know about their current business idea and market, they can’t help but compare potential ideas and markets to what they’re working on. Often, they have ideas that are even better than what they’re doing, but they have too much momentum, progress, and scale to change course.

Looking for a startup idea? Ask an entrepreneur what they’d be working on it if they weren’t already working on their current business.

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