Brian Armstrong

10 Ways to Come Up With a Million Dollar Business Idea

Question from a reader:


I am loving the book for its inspiration as I have been contemplating quiting my job. I have more than sufficient $ to take some time off, so last Friday I went ahead and put in my two weeks. It’s a scary feeling to do this especially without a side business already up and running, but I can afford it. Do you know of a good resource to use to come up with business ideas?

Best, A.V.


Great question, and one that is on many people’s minds. Here are some ideas in no particular order:

  1. Look at what frustrates you. Whats annoying. Whats hard to use. Imagine you go to a restaurant to meet a friend. But you get lost on the way, the waitress forgets your order, and the table you are sitting at wobbles. Three annoyances, and three businesses exist to solve those problems. They are all around you!

  2. Lots of things probably frustrate you, but pay attention to what frustrates other people. Where you can solve someones pain, there is great money to be made. Keep a journal and write down any time you see someone get upset for a week.

  3. Type into Google “entrepreneurs [your city name]” and join at least one club in your city. Most large cities have some sort of entrepreneurship organization that meets regularly (could also be indirectly related such as networking, marketing, etc). Some cost a little money, some are free. Whatever, join them. Getting around like-minded people is priceless, and will get your brain thinking in totally new ways. If you can’t find any club, join Toastmasters. In any given week, I attend at least three such clubs.

  4. Read Business 2.0. It’s actually dangerous for me to read it because by the time I’m done, I’m ready to drop everything I’m doing and launch my next great project. It’s way better than Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes, Money, and Business Week combined.

  5. Go talk to the retired executives at SCORE (it’s free) and stay in touch with them by email.

  6. Find someone who owns their own business and is rich. Call them on the phone and ask for 10 minutes of their time. If you don’t get a call back, just show up at their office (really!). Be honest and tell them you have no idea what you’re doing, but you want to start a business. You’d be surprised how willing people are to help, especially older folks. Just ask them how they got started, and they’ll talk for hours. If their advice is helpful, do what they say, and call them again a week later to go over it. Make it a regular thing, and you’ve got a mentor.

  7. Ask everyone you meet “So have you ever thought about starting a business?”. Most people have ideas even if they’ll never do it.

  8. Do the written exercises in Chapter 5 of Breaking Free.

  9. Get involved in the business school at your local university. They often have events such as business plan competitions, guest speakers, and networking functions. Most events at business schools have great receptions afterwards with free alcohol. If you give an MBA candidate a couple beers, he or she will tell you their business ideas for the rest of the night.

  10. Sit with a blank sheet of paper in total silence for an hour, with “what is my purpose?” at the top and see what happens.

I’ve done all of these at some point, and still do many of them. Hope it helps!

What others did I forget to mention? Type a comment below. Please Digg this too!