My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is “Fall in love with a problem, not with an idea”. Here’s why.
If you get excited about an idea and decide to start a venture around that idea, that concept and the business around that concept may or may not work in the market place. Success of the idea and the business depends on a lot of factors apart from the quality of the idea.
However, if on the other hand if you focus on a problem or an opportunity (Facebook is not necessarily addressing a problem.. it was addressing an opportunity to connect people meaningfully), then it allows you to address that problem or opportunity in multiple ways and allows you to explore different ideas and concepts. I.e. your success or failure does not depend on the success or failure of that one idea.
Let me illustrate with an example. If you were excited with the idea of creating healthy but tasty fast food counters in colleges, it seems like a reasonably sensible idea which may have a good business case. The success of this will depend, as with many other ideas, on the quality of the execution, pricing, brand personality, the quality of the snacks, competitive environment, the team’s ability to execute in a multi-location set up, etc. However, if instead of healthy but tasty fast food outlets in colleges, you were to own the problem/opportunity of “making fast food healthy” or “making healthy food tasty and appealing to young people”, you could have many more concepts and ideas to choose from… you could do one or some of the following:
- Of course you can start food outlets in colleges
- You could supply pre-packaged meals (to colleges and hostels, even offices or paying guest accommodations, etc. on monthly contracts)
- You could create a brand of cooking classes to teach young people how to make healthy food tasty
- You could create an online portal for healthy but tasty food
- You could create a brand of healthy fast food that is retailed
- You could do a catering service for birthdays and parties that serves healthy and nutritious meals
In short, when you take a step back from the idea and think about the problem or opportunity that that idea was solving, it expands the scope of what you can do and gives you a variety of choices to execute on. And your success or failure does not depend on that one idea that you originally had in mind.