How to start a profitable business without a good idea


“If you have one good idea, people will lend you twenty”
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach


Sitting in a bland corporate office, usually bored beyond belief, I often daydreamed about starting my own business. Work is almost always boring so I fantasized about this a lot.  Sometimes when work was completely soul destroying I’d get more serious about finding a start-up venture so I’d spend entire weekends hunkered over a battered notebook racking my brain for that 1 good idea.  Over a long period I scribbled enough ideas in dog eared pages to fully fill the journal. For all that effort I still wasn’t in business. I didn’t come up with a single idea that I could actively pursue to completely change my life.

I want to warn you not to waste your time trying to find a great idea. Truthfully your ideas probably aren’t all that good (how’s that for honesty?). The good news is that you don’t even need a good idea to be in business. I discovered that there really was only 1 thing I needed  to be in business and it wasn’t a great idea.

The only thing we need to be in business is 1 paying customer. If you have a customer paying you then you are in business. It’s really that simple. Focus on finding just one paying customer and you will discover that great idea quite simply.

The great idea comes out of addressing a need of a potential customer. That’s where the best ideas come from and the bonus is that you will have some certainty that this is an idea you can really make some money off of. If you are stuck in the great idea loop try shifting your focus from that 1 great idea to finding that 1 paying customer. For me it was the difference between getting into business for myself and forever being stuck on the sidelines waiting for a revelation to bowl me over.


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