This post is part of the Bootstrapped Startup 50 series. The goal for the BS50 series is to cover everything that matters when bootstrapping a new startup. The posts are sequential, so it wouldn’t hurt to read from the beginning if you’re just joining in.
So you’ve decided that you want to bootstrap your own startup, great! Having a great idea is the first step. Luckily, ideas are often the easiest part of the entire process of building a company. Every entrepreneur has countless ideas; most are weak, some are good, a couple may be real winners. The key is sorting through your ideas and determining which to actually follow through on.
Ideas Happen Constantly, Be Prepared
You never know when and where inspiration will strike, so you have to be ready to record any ideas that you have. I always have either my notebook or iPhone with me and record ideas there. I also have larger notebooks that I transfer the ideas to for safekeeping. My notebook has hundreds of ideas in it that have been collected over the years, many of which have since been done by others. Don’t let a good idea go to waste because you’re not prepared.
Your goals for yourself and your eventual company play a key role in the idea filtering process. How large of a company do you want to build and manage? Are you looking to stay in your current geographical area or are you open to moving to San Francisco or New York? How much cash do you have in the bank right now? These questions are all additional filters that need to be applied to your ideas. There will also be ideas that fit your situation perfectly… put a gold star next to these. The gold star ideas are the ones that you are most prepared for and can most easily act upon.
You should have a short list of no more than 3 or 4 ideas that you’re interested in pursuing. If you have one idea on the short list that seems much better than the others then you should start with it. If all ideas are rather equal then you probably don’t have a killer idea in the group and should keep looking. Quality over quantity is essential here: it’s better to have one 5-star idea than five 3-star ideas.
In the next post I’ll write more about choosing an idea that plays to your strengths. What did you think of the first post in the series? Comments appreciated!