Why You Don’t Need That ONE Big Idea To Start Your Own Business

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I love to talk about business ideas. For me it’s simply put one of the most interesting topics that you can chat about – even with a complete stranger – and there is so much to learn from these conversations!

Now, I don’t see myself as some sort of business guru for sure, not even close, but over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about how to start your own business.

And what I see almost all newbies are doing constantly wrong is that they firmly believe in this misleading concept that has manifested in their heads, which says that they have to have one crazy, mind-blowing product or service idea to start their first own business.

However, nothing could be further from the truth…

The Next facebook

How many facebooks have you heard of? How many Googles do you know? How many Ubers? The answer is one.

There is one facebook. The same goes for Google. In the late 1990s only two people in the whole world, namely Larry Page and Sergey Brin from Stanford University, had this unique idea to program a machine that would index the entire web and list every page in a way that would make browsing the internet so much more convenient for users like you and me.

Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin and Larry Page by Joi, on FlickrGoogle Founders Sergey Brin (m.) & Larry Page (r.) – “Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin and Larry Page” (CC BY 2.0) by Joi

So, out of millions of people that start their own business each year, only a handful comes up with something so brilliant that sooner or later their product or service will become incredibly popular and almost everybody on the planet will know about it, and will be using it.

Granted, there are other search engines and social networks etc. out there that are highly successful, but their total number is still rather small.

What I’m trying to say is this: You don’t need to wait with starting your own business until you can come up with one idea that will magically change your life forever, because chances are that it will never pop into your head.

What’s more, if suddenly you indeed have an enlightening moment and you come across something that excites you so much – like opening the first restaurant in space, something along those lines – who can guarantee you that you are not the only person that’s thrilled by your vision?

Because most of the time, that’s exactly the case.

The best idea is always the one that you came up with yourself. Or as we put it here in Germany: ‘Engineers love their own technology’. But this doesn’t mean that a whole bunch of other people will do so, too.

Lesson learned:

There is only a small number of ‘facebook-ideas‘ out there. Don’t try and go looking for one, unless you have a whole lifetime to spend.


According to this infographic published on businessinsider.com, there are 28.8 million businesses in the U.S. with less than 100 employees and are therefore defined as ‘small businesses‘.

Why Most Businesses Fail Infographic

Infographic: Why Most Businesses Fail – Screenshot taken from businessinsider.com

Half of these businesses fail within their first five years. 70 percent of them fail within the first ten years. The statistic says that the number one reason why the majority of these businesses close down is due to cash flow problems.

Shocking, isn’t it? 7 out of 10 small businesses will be gone within ten years from kickoff.

I think this is truly eye-opening, and what these numbers tell us is this: Chances are that you will be wasting years of your time brooding over your ideas trying to come up with something original that will change the world, and in the end your business just fails.

Also, remember that the right idea is important, but it’s always the people behind that idea that will make a business go sky-rocket, or not.

Lesson learned:

Just as most start-ups fail, yours might fail. Not even the best idea can give you 100 percent protection.

Being Prepared

‘It’s better to be prepared and not have an opportunity, than having an opportunity and not be prepared.’

I don’t know who came up with this quote, but I think it holds a lot of truth in it.

What does this have to do with starting your own business?

You have to understand that starting your own business is tough, really tough. Running a successful business is even harder. In fact, many people underestimate the difficulty of what it means to be your own boss and trying to earn money all by yourself.

And even with a brilliant idea in mind, it’s possible that you end up failing, because you don’t know anything about entrepreneurship such as raising funds, hiring employees, leading people, and setting short- and long-term goals.

So, starting a business with an idea that you saw somewhere else and that has already proven to work is a great way to practice. Maybe you can even give it a little tweak to make it unique.

Don’t forget: Practice doesn’t make perfect, but practice makes improvement!

practice entrepreneurship

A lot of tasks are involved when running your own business!

And by the way, most of the time there are no moral reasons to worry about being a copycat. Competition is good for business, and no one is entitled to claiming an idea all for himself simply because he was the first person to have it.

I mean, think about the automotive industry for example. How many different companies are manufacturing and selling cars? But they basically all use the same two types of combustion engines, which they didn’t invent themselves!

Lesson learned:

You can practice running a business and learn about all the twists and tweaks by starting with something small right now and on the side. When the time comes to go all-in, you already have a lot of experience that you can look back on and use to your advantage.

Testing Ideas In The Shortest Time Possible

Finally, let me reveal to you the big secret:

Being a successful entrepreneur is about testing as many business ideas as you can in the shortest time possible and sticking to what works.

The real challenge here is not to invent the next facebook, but to think about a way of how to shorten the time frame that’s needed to evaluate whether a concept is or is not profitable.

Live by this rule and you will soon find yourself with a handful of great ideas to choose from.

Have you started your first own business yet, or has searching for that ONE idea held you back from it? Please tell us about your experiences in the comments below.