I can fully remember when I co-founded my first startup while I was still in the University, 4th year in Engineering College. I was full of energy, passion, and vision of what will become of my startup. My team and I saw an opportunity in business management, and we quickly designed a business plan and made our beautiful projections.

Yes! It all started well and we were lucky enough to acquire clients in those early days of starting. It is very true that we started with the right energy, attitude, commitment, and purpose but one could wonder why our startup did not see the light of its first birthday?. I could not have asked for a better team, we were in sync and moving along with the same right amount of commitment but for years, I was unable to fully understand why our lovely startup died before leaving the tunnel.

Fast forward to 2017, when I started my second business and having followed a more learned from successful startup founders, I finally diagnosed the disease that killed my startup 7 years ago. The disease is called close-minded ideation. This is the first disease that can quickly bring you down. We did not clearly define our market, what specific problem we were solving and ofcourse did not get the right business model for the business.

In a short while, we started struggling to acquire more customers and we could not differentiate our value from that of our competitors, thus left us swimming in a red ocean. Having closed-minded ideation limits you from exploring all possible solutions or having convincing interaction for users you are developing the solution for.

I will briefly share some insight on how to build a strong foundation for your startup by ideating without limiting yourself. Things you must avoid while ideating are;

  1. Never think you know the solution while ideating – Once your mind tells you that the problem can be solved like this or like that, your ideation will not yield much result and you find yourself sticking to whatever solution you have conceived earlier. Come into ideation empty and curious, brainstorm about the problem and start creating design questions that will broaden the subject matter a little bit to accommodate multiple possible solutions. Go to your potential users with an open mind and use an interactive and more human-centered interview guide while talking to your potential users. Take note of their reactions and feedback. When building a solution, you must combine both the feelings and needs of your target users. Gather as many solutions as possible, then take it back to your studio for analysis.
  2. Fixed Imagination is an enemy of good ideation – Open up your mind when ideating, allow your imaginations to go wide, think as if there is no box. You will fix the feasibility of your imagination later but for now, let it flow. Think as if your resources are limitless, let your imagination take you to the superman level. You will be amazed at how creative your mind can be if you allow yourself to flow.
  3. Never choose a solution based on your emotions or feelings – Do not let your emotions ride you when making a decision on what solution to go with. Carry out solution synthesis and find possible ways to merge some solutions to generate a more desirable solution. This will help you when developing your product and choosing the right business model.
  4. Never try to be everyone’s savior with your idea – This will lead you to spending more resources and less output. Make sure you are not designing a solution to solve problems for multiple target users. When your target users are not in the same profile or the same level of need for your solution, you will get a hard time acquiring users. Take a step at a time and you can scale once you have been able to figure out the market. Initially, it is advised that you streamline your target user to the right profile of people that needs your solution and customize the user interaction, pricing, and channel to specifically suit your target market. It will save you good energy, resource and you will definitely grow faster, as you are serving a unique target market.

Ideation is the foundation of any business. If your ideation goes wrong, then it becomes challenging to scale such a startup. Don’t be like me 7 years ago. Channel that your energy, passion and strong will into running a viable startup that is deep-rooted on insight from a thorough ideation process without bias and decisions that are fully made based on the insight gotten from potential users. Go through inspiration to actually understand the problem statement, ask users who you are designing for, incorporate their feedback and come up with a product that is desirable by the market feasible for you to implement and viable enough to scale and remain sustainable.

 

By Francis Omorojie – Ennovate Hub