Bad ideas

The most common obstacle (excuse?) I hear for someone not creating a startup is, “I don’t have a good idea.” Well … so what? Maybe you should work on a bad idea instead.

Jason Cohen suggests your idea probably is bad, even if you think it’s good – but hey, you have to start somewhere, so you should probably go ahead and pursue it.

I’m beginning to think that it’s better to pursue an idea that you KNOW is bad than to pursue nothing at all. After all, if the goal of Lean Startup is to validate that your idea is good, couldn’t there also be value in validating that your idea is bad? There is a certain amount of learning how to measure that goes into creating a startup these days, and you can learn a lot by proving that your idea doesn’t meet the measurement thresholds you required for a success (most importantly, that revenue > costs). In some ways, your emotional skepticism about your bad idea will help you learn more about the process – it will help you stay objective. I suppose there’s always the possibility that your idea turns out to be good, but it’s more likely that you’ll spot a good idea right next to your bad idea.

If you have no idea at all, then just pick a space you like and start exploring. I’m interested in scheduling, email productivity, educational phone apps, “personal relationship management,” and a lot of other spaces. Pick a space at that scope, then talk to friends about possible ideas. Just pick the first specific idea that comes to mind. Do some basic customer development by talking to customers in that space or follow the process that Rob Walling recommends for a more self-serve product. The process itself should open your mind to more ideas – and as you evaluate them, one of them is bound to be a good one.

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