Stop trying to find ideas. Start trying to find problems.

Read this if you want to stop being a starving entrepreneur

Stop trying to find ideas. Start trying to find problems.

"This idea is so good. I really need to quite my job to work on it." - entrepreneurs everywhere forever.


Building something new is one of the hardest things you can do.

The universe seems to have antibodies against change.

Being an entrepreneur ends up being more a game of "shots at bat" than a game of ideas followed by winning.

No one starts a business and it just works out as planned.

Even if they have good luck, the same business name and it looks the same on the outside, on the inside, the business has likely gone through many phases that are almost indistinguishable from each other in one way or another.

Just because, in part, entrepreneurship is a game of chance, doesn't mean you can't tilt the scale in your favor through high quality thinking.

So what are you thinking about?

The best advice I can give is this.

Stop trying to find ideas. Start trying to find problems.

The market is a problem solving machine and you serve the market.

If you are trying to start a new business the difference between success and becoming a starving entrepreneur is wether you are building an idea or solving a problem.

How to find problems to solve:

  1. Start with what you're interested in.

To be able to stay motivated long enough to solve a problem it helps a ton to be interested in it. The same space you have "ideas" about is also probably the same space you are interested in.

Your life is long so its worth looking far and wide not just at whats nearby.

The big shift in thinking needs to be to find things your interested in and THEN go digging for problems to solve related to it.

It is very important to anchor a new business around solving a problem vs building an idea.

  1. Go digging for the problems to solve.

Once you have identified areas you are interested in pay attention!

Hang out in the places other people interested in the thing hang out. Listen. Talk. Ask questions! Become addicted to finding problems. Write them all down.

You should also start hunting. Hope is not a plan. Listening is not enough. Start reaching out to people and businesses however you can. Find excuses to talk with people and learn their problems.

You need to learn that spending a few weeks building an MVP of an idea is still slower than building nothing and reaching out to people. If it helps make useful conversations happen build a landing page for a product that does not exist but might someday.

  1. Determine which problems are good.

Not all problems are created equal.

Not all problems are good.

What makes a good problem?

A good problem:

  • Identifies a real obstacle to be overcome. 
  • Is something you can solve.
  • Is in a good market.
  • Is timely.
  • Excites other people.

As mentioned previously you are going to have to take many shots at this but it pays huge dividends to pick a good problem first.

If you have done this right you now have a list of good problems to solve you are interested in.

Get Going.

Finding problems vs building ideas is meant be the opposite of a time waster so don't use it that way. Do not allow this to become an all consuming analysis paralysis situation.

Don't wait.

Go solve a problem.