1. Don't lock yourself in your room and say, "Think of a startup idea, think of a startup idea..."Instead, go out in the world and live your normal life, but with this lens:
- What problems do I have?
- What seems to be missing?
2. Explore a new area/field/discipline/career.Good or bad, what we study and do for a living shapes how we view the world and how we think, creating masses of people who think the same way. It is hard to think outside the box when you are in the box. For this reason, plus the fact that you are not invested in the status quo, curb-jumpers (i.e the revolutionaries of an industry) are always outsiders. This Guy Kawasaki clip explains this concept in more detail. Explore a new area and you’ll bring your skill set and worldview to a place where people think differently and have quit noticing what's missing—and that is a powerful intersect for new, good ideas.
3. Travel.Travel = mind-opening = creativity (especially since creativity tends to decrease with increasing age). Traveling is one of the best ways to foster creativity and increase openness. Plus, you see how other people are living, whether it is new technology or trends, or reminders of a lost art in your country (like handcrafted footwear.) Sometimes you don’t even need to be original—if you see something taking off elsewhere (like online flash sales in France, or online coupons in the USA) be the first to do it in your country—like Gilt in the US, or the Groupon clone CityDeal in Germany (bought by Groupon for a cool "three digit million number"). Also—to get an idea, you need to think, not just do. Very often in our day to day lives we get so caught up in the "do-ing", there isn't time for the thinking. Travel to give yourself some space for deep reflection.
4. Look for stagnant industries and change the business model.Some of the latest and greatest companies have come from taking an existing product from a stagnant industry (in innovation, not sales) and changing the way it’s sold.
For example, Poppy Barley identified that 60% of women struggle to find footwear that fits. We remove the middleman, avoid traditional markups, and deliver high-quality, handcrafted and perfectly fitted boots and shoes for a price unheard of in the bespoke good industry. A few other examples:
- BHLDN offers boho-chic wedding dresses that ship immediately, instead of requiring an 8+ month window from order to delivery.
- WarbyParker challenges the huge markups in optometry by selling glasses for $99/pair and avoids traditional retail markups by selling online.
- Clearly Contacts sells contacts online.