2 Reasons You Can’t Come Up With a Business Idea

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For people who aren’t natural born lemonade stand entrepreneurs (I am not), the toughest part about making the transition to the entrepreneurial lifestyle is coming up with a profitable business idea.

I really enjoy helping listeners through these issues. Over the past two years, I’ve seen the same problems coming up again and again.

I have also made all these errors myself. Worse– I still make these mistakes.

So it goes.

Here they are:

1. You are confusing a ‘plan’ with a ‘product.’

Don’t do anything for your business until you can answer the following questions with one sentence each.

  1. What is your product?
  2. Why is it better or different than anything else out there?
  3. How and what will you charge for it?

A lot of people call me with plans like this:

“I’m going to get 4 virtual assistants and throw them after these 4 domains that are targeted after my Market Samurai findings etc etc…


I’m going to write about x for 2-3 months, give away this stuff until my list is 500 people, then I’m going to survey them, then I’m going to, then I’m going to.”

Stop that.

Working on a plan that is going nowhere isn’t that great of a learning experience.

You are better off contributing to somebody else’s plan– preferably an entrepreneur who knows what they are doing (these things are relative).

Offer to help somebody out for free and figure out how they are focusing on products, not plans. When you start to see their pain points left and right, and realize they aren’t super heros, the product and service ideas will start to flow.

For service providers and freelancers: although you work primarily off of bids, your services should be productized. There should be buy now options on your site.

2. You are waiting, reading, networking, and learning until you get a good idea.

Business ideas don’t come from the back of napkins in coffee shops, or from careful analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and market opportunities.

Business ideas come from experience and expertise that comes from throwing yourself at hard problems.

I’m not sure how much survivor’s bias there is here. We all listen to smart people on shows like Mixergy and think things like “I just need to create a recurring subscription service that services x market with information….” (thank you MJ DeMarco!).

I get it, you are spending way too much time gaming this thing out. You need to be solving problems now.

That’s why I believe so many entrepreneurs start with service businesses. I can rattle off about 25 hard problems that my business is having right now that somebody could be working to solve. They might not all be good opportunities, but I would be willing to pay some amount of money for each and every one of them.

Most people think being an entrepreneur is about having an idea and making it happen. The more businesses I see getting created I’ve realized that being an entrepreneur is a process– it’s an approach you take to life.

Take extreme levels of responsibility. Get things done for people.

That’s it.


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