Chill the fuck out.
There seems to be so much pressure on entrepreneurs to come up with the next big idea.
I’ve sat with aspiring entrepreneurs who rattle off idea after idea to me. These ideas are exciting and could potentially do a lot of good for a lot of people. But they don’t pursue any of them.
Why? Well, according to them, it’s not a billion dollar idea.
In other words, they don’t know if it’ll be the next big thing. A lot of times, we confuse “the next big thing” with meaning “the next new thing.” These aspiring entrepreneurs aren’t concerned that
Most successful startups will not be a new idea.
Look around at the incredible companies alive today, especially in technology. How many of them are completely new ideas?
Take the ride-sharing company Lyft as a first example.
Sharing a ride is nothing new. Hitchhikers have been around for as long as travel has been around (which is forever). I imagine people asking a passerby for a ride on their camel.
Before Lyft or Uber, college kids would post fliers on bulletin boards asking if anyone would like to hitch a ride home with them over spring break. I think my university helps coordinate these rides now, so it still happens! When I was in school, I’d rarely go to the grocery store without another fraternity brother. It made economical sense.
Teaming up to carpool is not a brand spanking new concept.
So what made Lyft so successful?
Conceptually, ride-sharing companies have become very successful because they’ve taken an existing idea and made it better. I’m very obviously over-simplifying their success, but the idea still holds true: “better” is better than new.
“Better” is better than new.
I was first introduced to entrepreneurship when I was in college.
One of my professors connected me with a local successful inventor/entrepreneur. That entrepreneur’s name was John, and his first assignment for me was to meet him at the Lowe’s Hardware Store on a Friday morning.
We spent the morning walking up and down the aisles in the Home and Garden section. We looked at every single product on the shelves. For each product we’d ask two questions:
- “What’s missing?”
- “What can we do better?”
The vast majority of inventions are actually improvements on existing technologies. The same goes for new startups.
Join the search for better.
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, please take this little piece of advice to heart: forget (for the moment) about finding new ways to do things, and start your entrepreneurial journey by looking for better ways to do things.
Look for slight improvements.
Slight improvements are easier to build, easier for you to execute on, and easier for your first clients to understand and adopt.
If you find something completely new, then chase after it! I definitely don’t want to provide barriers to your ambition. But what I hope you avoid is freezing up because you’re not doing something new.
Hunt for better.