Its a fact – there are more start-ups, more investors and more entrepreneurs out there. Cheap technology, easy access to funding and a general change in our generation’s attitude to going it alone means there’s never been so much innovation happening in any point of history!
I think the cheap technology has had the biggest impact, back in ’95 the cost of buying and setting up servers, hiring developers etc. made it prohibitive without funding. Now I can rent a fully dedicated server for less than £150 (US$300) a month, outsource the development to India and build a start-up on some savings without any VC funding! On top of that, the number of events and organisations promoting entrepreneurship is pushing more people into going it alone and putting them in touch with funding, if needed which a lot may not even need anymore just to get started!
On the flip side of that, it does mean a new entrepreneur like me has immense difficulty finding a genuinely good, original idea! I’ve been churning hundreds of ideas for the past few months, and almost immediately with one quick Google search I can find a bunch of companies already doing it or something similar! Now that is so easy to try something cheaply, people just go out there and do it, and the big ideas, that have already been thought of, but not implemented because the technology isn’t there yet or its too expensive, are out of the range of most entrepreneurs who are not going for funding without a PHD thesis to back them up!
However, the wisdom I have learnt from entrepreneurs I’ve read/seen online or met is your original idea is almost never what you end up doing once you actually get started developing it. I’m watching myself carefully to ensure I avoid “idea paralysis” – not getting started because I’m waiting for the Eureka idea that hasn’t been done before! After a few weeks of in depth market research for several ideas, I’ve come to accept that very likely any idea I come up with has been thought of or done by someone else, and that by itself does not mean there is no room for improvement or even space for you in the market – the fact is nearly all the new ideas I’ve thought of and seen are still coming out of Silicon Valley in the US, but 80% of online users are not from the US! There’s a whole world out there, and after all my travels I have an insight to always think globally, so just cause there’s a small start-up in the US doing what your idea, think how you can adapt the idea for the rest of the world!
I’m currently reading this book (in the thumbnail above), Developing New Business Ideas, to help me put a framework to evaluate my business ideas so I don’t go pursuing an idea which is, frankly, crap. The presentation by Paul Saffo below is also very interesting, mainly about how most innovations have been tried 20 years before they become huge hits, again proving your great “new” idea isn’t really that original after all!