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College entrepreneur class helper: How to get an idea

Updated: May 31, 2020

Ideas are everywhere. Ideas are as many as sands and rocks. Some are big, small are small, some are worthless (too common), some are too tough to get to. If you want to get an idea, how do you approach it?

Ideas are like sand. It is everywhere. Make sure you find a business concept, not just an idea.

Step 1: Identify the way to come up with an idea. Three mental path ways to come with an idea are:

1. Identify a cause;

2. Identify an industry;

3. Identify a group of people.

Be very careful when you want to SOLVE A PROBLEM. There are billions and billions of problems to solve - most do not end up good entrepreneurs. So don't go that route.

Don't try to solve a problem. The United States got into Vietnam and Afghan trying to "solve problems". Individuals trying to solve problems of strangers or in area totally obscured is hopeless - though it logically sound promising.

Business is not really logical. That is why good students tend to struggle a lot at startups.

Now, you have identified a path (you can come back to this anytime). Let's move on.

Step 2: Connect value and disruption.

Whatever path you took, now it is time to figure out the key equation.


Value is a big word. It is unscientific because it is deeply situational and psychological. For example if you give a dog person a cat shirt, it would not be useful. But to a cat person, it becomes a treasure. The shirt costs the same, but the PERCEIVED VALUE is different. The dog person will not buy, but the cat person will scramble for the shirt. Both of them don't NEED the shirt - one just DESIRE the shirt.

For example, let's say you follow the first path. Let's say you find a cause "reduce CO2 population", identify a solution. Greta Thunberg tried one idea - to become a public face and attract like minded people.

In second path, for example, if you identify an industry, say "I am focusing on the grocery industry", identify their pain, and provide a solution. For example, what are grocery store owners care about during COVID season? provide a solution. This approach is hard to students, because the INSIDE of the business is completely closed to you and your teachers. It is trade secret, it is not in ANY books or websites. So really, ask a friend like parents who knows the ins and outs of a particular market - their accounts are real and the problems you identified are live.

For example according to the third cause, if you identify a group of people, say "College students stuck at home after graduation", identify a way to help them AND help the industry. REALLY HELP THEM. Don't do customer survey or questionnaire. If they are not paying, it only means your offer is not enough. For example, you can have a news letter established that provide news to gig workers and this way connect business to unemployed. Business will pay you, and gig workers will gain.

Step 3: Focus on that idea and give it wings of business.

After the first two steps, you have either "industry" and value, or "people" and value. Now think about how to come up with a self-survivable institution that can provide such value.
For this, you are doing REAL business design and business planning now. It is not a class project anymore.

Helping people is not entrepreneurship yet. Entrepreneurship is the BUSINESS OF HELPING PEOPLE. Make sure you have an business idea, and make sure you can start that business.

If you can not operate a business to support your idea, you can not run it.

If you have a nice business but YOU CAN NOT START IT, then it also is a waste of time.

For actual business like silicon valley startups, we need to consider a lot of other factors, such as if you are resigning from your job or not, etc etc. For a school project, this is pretty good already!!

To be entrepreneur, make three things happen. First, provide value to target audience. Second, make sure you can live off them. Third, make sure you can get the ball rolling. That's it. There are too many good ideas.

Step 4: If the idea id no good, throw it away and go back to Step 1. Have fun.

College entrepreneur class tool box:

A bunch of free tools that are interactive. They are based on BAIFI - business artificial intelligence and failure-derived intelligence.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact.

A list of top ranked "How to get a good idea" and "How to Prepare" articles found on searching the internet.

You don't have to be a deep thinker to come up with new ideas. Here are 7 ways to break your conventional thinking and make that light bulb appear.

1. Engage in Observation Sessions;

2. Socialize Outside Your Normal Circles;

3. Read More Books;

4. Randomly Surf the Web;

5. Keep a Regular Journal;

6. Meditate;

7. Use Structured Exercises.

Structure breeds creativity. Simple exercises can get your brain working in a focused manner to yield great ideas. My favorite comes from author and Baylor University professor Dr. Blaine McCormick. With a partner, take ten minutes (timed) to come up with 42 ideas on a specific topic or problem. You may only think of 30 or 35 but no matter. You'll find that there are at least two or three gems in the list.

Chang Liu's comments: Out side of suggestions 1, 2, and 7, the rest are lame. But it is good to observe (it is just the market does not allow you to observe, so you can go to a grocery store), and come up with a lot of ideas.

Idea generation is fueled by consumption, not creativity.

As Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things.”

The more “things” you have to connect, the better your ideas will become. This means the quality and quantity of things you consume is a crucial factor in your ability to come up with a good idea.

1. Consider what you consume.

2. Regurgitate what you consume.

3. Think macro.

No matter what you learn, you can zoom your perspective out to a macro level and discover ways it relates to other things you’re trying to brainstorm.

4. Capture ideas when they come.

5. Speak your ideas.

The process of communicating an idea — even if you don’t solicit feedback— helps you clarify and see it in a new way.

6. Ask more questions.

7. Study opposite takes on the same idea.

The point is consuming conflicting ideas helps you see a bigger picture, expands your viewpoint, and triggers your own take on the subject.

8. Focus on ideas that solve problems.

Inverting the process focuses your idea generation and increases the likelihood you come up with a good idea.

9. Vary where and when you think.

A variety of environments often sparks a wider variety — and higher quality — of ideas.

For example, the broad idea for this post came to me while I walked and listened to music, most of the nine habits came to me while in the shower, and I wrote it while at my desk.

Chang Liu's Comment: This is a very good idea. Everyone of the points are directly helpful.

To become successful at anything, you've got to practice discipline. You must do something over and over and over again to do it extremely well. And being creative is no exception.

Article 4: 25 great entrepreneur quotes, Entrepreneur magazine

"Choose a job that you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life." -- Confucius

Chang Liu's comment:

Choose a job where people like you, and everyday thereafter is a party.

"As long as you're going to be thinking anyway, think big." -- Donald Trump

"Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't." -- Student (unidentified) of Warren G. Tracy

"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way." -- John C. Maxwell

"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve." -- Napoleon Hillgs, do small things in a great way." -- Napoleon Hill

A big dream is to do a small thing the best in the world. - Chang Liu

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." -- Thomas Edison

"It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure." -- Bill Gates

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." -- Mark Twain

"The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." -- Ralph Nader

"If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way." -- Napoleon Hill

"Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." -- Winston Churchill


Two idea generating power play book moves that you can use:

Power move 1: Look at an existing startup and duplicate it.

Power move 2: Simply a process through automation or other means.

A company is legitimate when it provides unique value to its target audience. The fact that a value is accepted is a proposition and hypothesis, until it is proven in the market. A company must find traction. The startup idea starts with Vp - value proposition must be accepted by the audience and they are willing to pay for it.


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