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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

How To Find New Ideas

For most entrepreneurs, finding new ideas ain’t all that hard. In fact, I’d proffer that curating those ideas and picking the right one to work on is probably a whole lot harder.

So whilst I’m fully part of the ”Ideas are just a multiplier of execution” school of thought, there’s still something like a bad idea. Not all ideas are created equally in that sense and it’s still a skill to both have good ideas and execute on the best one’s.

The best ideas will uncover opportunity and match it with your ability and availability to exploit it. And to take that analogy even further: it’s about marrying a round peg in a round hole. The less friction there is in this union, the more viable, sustainable and profitable your idea should be. (If you execute of course.)

But how to find and pick the best ideas? This is how I look at new potential new ideas…

1. Copy+Paste

Pablo Picasso famously said “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” and this is probably one of the most underrated ways to generate new ideas.

The method involves observing what others are doing at the moment and how they’re doing that. If those things are already generating traction or money, then you’re onto something. Your task then is to copy+paste that and then figure out to do it slightly differently or slightly better.

2. Discover Unresolved Pain.

Some of the best ideas has its roots in someone’s unresolved pain. Most people that experience pain (of any kind) will gladly use painkillers. Your challenge is to get people to speak out about the pain(s) they are experiencing.

This requires a certain degree of vigilance and presence (or consciousness) in all conversations. Instead of merely listening to the words you are hearing, what is the person actually saying. What’s the underlying emotion or intent of the words they’re using?

3. Scratch Your Own Itch

The “scratch your own itch” method of idea generation is a popular one, because you don’t have to rely on discovering and distilling someone else’s pain. The method thus relies on your intimate knowledge of that itch and how you’d like it to be scratched.

The challenge with doing this though is that you’ll still have to find other people with the same itch if the idea is to be viable.

4. Skate To Where The Puck Might Be

The last one on this list is probably the most aggressive (or risky) in the sense that it involves the most assumptions and requires intense innovation. If you’re going this route, you’re basically saying that this idea completely doesn’t exist in any way or form today, but the pain or itch will exist in the future.

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