Here's the answer to many of those waiting for the next killer idea to start their first business.
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It doesn't exist. The magic bullet idea that so many want to be entrepreneurs search for, but never find, simply doesn't exist. So many individuals constantly search for a magical idea, something so new and so radical that it hasn't been done before. Odds are whatever idea you do come up with you'll find that it has already been done in some way or another. So my one piece of advice to any entrepreneur searching for his next big idea, stop thinking and start doing.
Some of the most obvious ideas for a new business are the ones you see every day. Recently, Bonobos has been written in the press for their stellar growth in selling custom fit pants and other better fitting men's clothing online. How did they start?
The two co-founders met at Stanford Business School, one of them happened to be selling custom fit pants out of the trunk of his car. They simply scaled their operations to sell to a broader customer base than just Stanford students and have created a multi-million e-commerce firm by doing so.
The best way to find a business idea that will work for you is to either listen to other people's problems and find an easy solution, or look at what you've been doing on a day to day basis and see what greater value you can create from it. As written in a recent post "Think of Something New, Not Better", successful entrepreneurs and successful firms constantly analyze and think of ways to improve on what exists today.
The problem with the "Ultimate Idea" thinking is that you are constantly searching for something that doesn't exist today. How many people have you heard of that created something that never existed? It doesn't happen. Inventions are created by building off of what already exists today and by changing your mentality from trying to create something so radically new to focusing on what exists today and how you can make it better will yield greater results for your search of a new business.
Many entrepreneurs got their start by doing something as a hobby and turned it into a multi-million dollar company only after the light bulb went off that what they were doing as a hobby on a small scale could be scaled up to serve a larger customer base. True entrepreneurs take action. While business planning is an important aspect of entrepreneurship, idea generation doesn't get accomplished by sitting around trying to think of the "Ultimate Idea". It happens by being active, trying things out, testing things on a small scale with friends and family, and of course the right timing.
The next time you catch yourself trying to think of the next big idea, force yourself to stop and re-focus your thoughts on a problem that you recently observed and see if you can come up with a better way to solve that problem.