After writing about the freelancer’s contradiction, a frequently heard question is how to get startup ideas for side projects. For me this comes naturally with solving my own problems.
This has been my natural attitude since I first started building side projects. Later, when I read the bootstrapper’s handbook Make, it became clear to me that I was doing it rightly instinctively.
I naturally search for business ideas in everything in life, my daily challenges make this ideas popping up in my mind. Let’s look at some examples:
- When I was in Berlin, I experienced choice overload because of an overkill of bike sharing apps. So I build an MVP with an overview of bike sharing services per city, characteristics, pricing and reviews. The idea eventually failed because it was too hard to collect correct data and reviews.
- In 2009 I needed a passport photo to get a new passport. I wanted to make the photo online but this service didn’t exist. So I called my friend Paul and we started to build an online passport photo solution, which turned into my main source of income ever since.
- With my business partner at CaPPr’s, we experienced friction in working together from time to time, because of our differences in personality. I came up with the idea to use our personality inventory to match both of our profiles and generate a user guide to build a good relationship and get a lot done faster, both at work and in private life. The product called Personal User Guide now has 1000+ users.
- When I lived in Barcelona, I always showed the same insider spots to friends that visited me. I came up with the idea of selling an email series with all these tips to tourists via Facebook ads. I wrote the emails, set up the autoresponders in MailChimp and some Facebook ads as a try-out. The idea failed because it was too expensive to get leads in this highly saturated market.
- When I am traveling to new cities, I always stumble upon the problem that I don’t know in which area to search for an Airbnb. So I started to work on a tool that recommends areas based on your personality, called Wherebnb, that is still under construction.
As you can see it’s quite easy to find ideas and just try them out. And you don’t need to know how to code, as I don’t either. I will write about building MVP’s when you can’t code in another article.
The big advantage of this strategy is that you are the customer yourself. So you know what’s up. You don’t have to be a subject matter expert to start, you can become it along the way. That’s what happened to me with the photos and the personality tests, too. That’s just compound interest as a side effect.
If you think your life is not exciting enough to get ideas, you should change something. Probably the problem is in your cheap dopamine addiction. I found traveling very useful to get new ideas out of new experiences because you see things from other perspectives.