There’s lots of articles out there on strategy for entrepreneurs, but they seem heavily weighted towards those of us who have contacts in the venture capital industry, rather than the small, sometimes desperate bands of heroes that can be found out there in their home offices and coffee shops. With limited funds, time and other resources, everyone wants to look for ways to increase their success (including me!). I’ve been thinking a lot about this question, especially since the first 5 or so ideas I came up with were immediately overrun with initiatives from big companies. Anyway some points for departure:
- If there’s consulting, there’s room for software. Basically if you see an area where consultants seem to be making bank, then that’s an area where things are ripe for automation.
- Small entrance, large exit. You want an idea, niche, whatever, where the opportunity doesn’t seem very large, but where there are “adjacent” niches – places where the natural addition of features to your launch product can carry you to. A natural path to expansion.
- Lucrative. Something that people are paying cash for is much more attractive than something people are paying for by looking at ads. The entrepreneurship wonks sometimes use the word “forgiving.”
- New, but not too new. Market timing is primary, especially if you’re financing this out of your savings, second mortgage or credit cards. If you’re too early, innovation is expensive. If you’re too late, gaining traction and publicity is expensive.
- Personal value. The best ideas are those that “scratch an itch” — ideas that come out of something personally important to you.
- You need a hook. Whether that’s an interesting story, a useful connection (or ten), or a lucky break, you somehow need to find a way past the “cold start” problem. Something to draw people in, customers and investors alike. The appropriate niche may be obvious based on your “hook.”