You may have decided to start your business based on what you thought was a great idea and a vision you had for how that might play out. It’s important to understand though that being overconfident is a killer when it comes to creating new products and that your first idea might actually be a bad idea.

What your initial idea lacks

Your initial idea may be good in concept. But for it to become anything more, it needs to be molded and shaped to fit your target market, and this must be done with careful thought, structure and a focus on creativity.

Understand that building a startup involves a point A and a point B. Moving from one to the other requires many steps. As you move through the process, it is important to ensure each stage fits with your mindset or values. Always be sure you know why something should be done. And if it is not something you are willing to do, a path you do not want to go down, find another step.

You do not have the only good idea

However inspired your initial idea was, know that you are not the only one. The world is a big place and somewhere, someone else is working on a similar idea. There is a book by Susan Friedmann called Riches in Niches. In it, she says that startups that succeed focus on a niche market. They find a small group that believes as they do and whose values align to that of the company and its specific product.

This is what Steve Jobs has done with Apple. He started with an idea for something different, and although today not everyone is a fan, he has enough of a following and spoke to enough people on the right level that the company evolved to be what it is today.

Plan for growth

One element your idea needs to develop is how it will grow with time. The product or service for one user cannot be the same for 10,000 users. In order to foster the creative process and to generate ideas, I like to use the Post-it note process.

This starts with what is essentially a wish list. Write down all of your ideas, all of the features and functions you want to have on Post-it notes, and put them all on a wall. Identify one problem you want to solve for one user. Again, brainstorm what this problem or question will be.

Identify the one problem you want to solve first. Then from your wish list of functions and features, choose the one or a few that provide a solution. This will help you prioritize what to develop first.

The creative process

Know that the creative process always takes place away from the computer. It happens with the hand, with pencil and paper. There are many models for creative development that can work quite well. Just some of these are mind maps, empathy maps, business model canvas, value proposition canvas, persona method, and customer-journey design. Find the one that works for you and use it at every stage in your process.


Once you have your problem and the features you want to develop, consider the baseline of your website and the experience just for the ideal user. What is their persona? What do you want their experience to be? What emotion do you want them to get from using your site or product?

Go through the persona, experience and emotion exercise again for 100 users, and then again for 1,000. It is impossible to start with a huge ecosystem from day one. And no matter how much money you have to invest, starting with a big idea that will suit millions and expecting it to work for one user, will not succeed.

When you are brainstorming, write down every word that comes to mind, even into the hundreds.

It is also helpful in defining your vision to divide your product into blocks, and to consider how you will best serve each segment. For instance, if you are developing an application for a platform like Airbnb, the experience of the renter versus that of the guest will be very different.

Test your idea

Never assume that you have come up with all the answers. A working group is a good way to test your theory and to find out what you may have overlooked. For such a group to be successful though, you must be prepared to ask the hard questions. What about this fits your needs? What do you see as the best aspect? What have your missed or forgotten? What else would you want?

If you are open and transparent with your working group about what you want and why, the answers they provide will be honest and will help your process.

What creative process led to your best idea? Let us know below.