How to Generate Business Ideas


An entrepreneur’s job is to serve it’s customers by solving a problem or delivering value. In a free market, entrepreneurs who don’t serve customers fail. To execute, an entrepreneur must identify customer demands and how to meet them. Many of the best startup ideas come from solving problems or inefficient processes that customers have an urgent need to solve. This post covers four strategies for gaining customer insights about problems and demands.


1. Scratch Your Own Itch

“Why is it so important to work on a problem you have? Among other things, it ensures the problem really exists. It sounds obvious to say you should only work on problems that exist. And yet by far the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has.” – Paul Graham, Y-Combinator


What unmet needs do you have?, What challenges do you face throughout the day?, What product do you wish you had that doesn’t exist yet?, etc.

Make sure you’re not the only one that has that problem or wants that product. Do some customer development to see if they also have that problem or want that product.


2. Interview Customers

“The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems…” – Paul Graham


a. Pick a customer segment

Based on your relationships, access, propensity to buy, passion, etc.


b. Ask them what their problems are

What’s the hardest part of your day?, What unmet needs do you have?, What product do you wish you had that doesn’t exist yet?, etc.


3. Meet Known Needs

“Great companies do 1+ of 3 things: Get you laid, get you paid, get you made” – Dave McClure, 500 Startups

Paid = Salesforce, banks, Airbnb

Made = Twitter, college

Laid = Cars, clothes, Tinder

Transportation = Uber

Surviving = Food

Save Time = Buffer, oDesk

Entertainment = Movies, video games

4. Do What’s Working

“At a time when so many internet entrepreneurs are running around Silicon Valley trying to do something no one else has ever done, [Evan] Williams believes that the real trick is to find something that’s tried and true” – Twitter co-founder via Wired

a. Second Mover Advantages

i. Validate customer demand – seeing that your competitor is selling products shows that there are people who want to buy it

ii. Learn about your competitor’s customer acquisition strategy – skip the experiments, know what channels work

iii. Observe product management and marketing – copywriting, conversion funnels, UX, etc.


b. Examples of Second Movers

Facebook, Simple (bank), 5 Hour Energy knockoffs, countless ecommerce companies, Social media consultants


What’s Next?

Next you will want to conduct some customer development interviews to validate that the startup idea is something that people actually want. You may also want to put up a landing page to start building an audience before you launch, to pre-sell your product, and/or to test whether you can acquire traffic effectively. Here’s the list of 9 startup ideas that I shared via the Startup College Newsletter if you want to steal one of those 😉



10 Landing Page Design Tips To Boost Conversion Rates


Landing pages are a great way to build an audience for your product pre-launch and engage your visitors to eventually turn them into customers. Below are 10 design principles for increasing conversion rates. Having a landing page that actually converts is important because you want to make the most of the time and money you spend on driving traffic to your landing page.  If you would like to learn about building and driving traffic to landing pages, check out How to Build a Landing Page. Otherwise, let’s proceed fourth with the advice…

1. Craft A Clear Value Proposition

Clearly and simply state the primary value proposition of using your product. Describe the end benefit to the user.  


What will your customer get if they sign up for your offering or use your product? For example, Airbnb gets them “a place to stay.” Our How to Build a Landing Page course gets you “a live landing page within a weekend.” Speaking from the customer’s point of view can help them appreciate the value of your offering.

2. Offer Something People Actually Want

If you have a product or offering that solves a real problem that customers have and truly delivers value, they will want it. Do some customer development to determine what people actually want and what their needs are. Highlight those value propositions in your site’s titles and copy.

3. Display Social Proof or Testimonials

Social proof means an indicator that other, well respected people like your offering. It has been shown to be influential on people’s decision making. For example, if Michael Jordan wears Nikes, many people will assume that Nikes are high quality. You could display social proof by showing logos of publications that have written about you, logos of customers who use your product, or testimonials.

4. Keep it Simple

Limit the amount of stuff on your landing page so that your visitors are focused on the action you want them to perform. Keep it simple. Too much text, links, or different CTAs can distract the user.

5. Highlight The Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is the action you want to the user to take. For a landing page, the CTA is probably to get them to sign up, enter their email address, or pay for something. Make your CTA visibly stand out from the page. You could use a bright or unique color, make it larger than other items on the page, or use arrow images to direct the viewer’s eyes to it.

6. Make the Copy on the CTA Button Actionable

Some studies have shown that having the text on the button users click describe the value proposition increase click rates. Instead of “sign up” or “submit,” try something more appealing. “Get instant access,” “Get your free ebook,” or something similar may be more appealing to visitors.

7. Describe Your Unique Offering

If you’re offering something that other customers can get elsewhere, explain what makes you unique and/or better. Unique qualities might include your credentials, a unique feature or differentiator that your product offers. For example, Meetingburner offers “webinars and screen sharing,” but with the unique differentiator “no installation required.”

8. Address Your Customer Segment

Describing who your offering is for personalizes the experience and assures that it will provide value for their specific needs. For example, Stripe is “payments for developers.” Balanced is payments for marketplaces.”

9. Enable Sharing

Enabling your visitors and/or converted sign ups to share can lead to more traffic to your page. Add share buttons to your landing page to encourage your website visitors to share your content with their audiences. You could consider providing them with incentive to share, such as a discount or a discount to the people they invite.

10. Test, Iterate, Optimize

There’s no one specific magic formula for designing the perfect landing page. Different types of viewers may react differently to different designs or products. Try running some A/B tests to determine which designs perform best and iterate accordingly to optimize your page.

To learn more about landing pages, including how to build them and how to drive traffic to them, check out How to Build a Landing Page