This final 47hats.com tip for microISVs for the month of August has to do with a question that gets asked often at the Business of Software Forum: How do I come up with an idea for my microISV?
It’s damn hard, no doubt about it.
In some ways, the answer to the question “What product should I do?” is really bound to what you’ve done in life, what your values and passions are.
It does seem sometimes that all the good ideas are taken – and sometimes when you see some new innovation to think, “Damn! Why didn’t I think of that and build that app?” But that kind of thinking gets you nowhere whatsoever.
Coming up with a product idea is a specialized instance of innovation in general. I’d submit that innovation happens at the edges of established practices, markets, ideas and ways of doing things. Not at the center of those.
Consider for a moment two very different cases: micro loans and the iPhone. Microloans came into being because the established lending practices in developing countries – and poor parts of developed countries went so far and no further.
The iPhone is a different case obviously. There, Apple did not set out to build (another) better phone, it set out to build the Apple way of looking at the cell phone experience.
I’d suggest the quest to find your microISV application idea starts by looking at your own resume. Think back to each job, situation, organization. Where and what are the unsolved problems at the edges? What problems will those companies, industries, entities face in the next 3 years?
Next look around at your life – current work and personal life: what things do you wish for? What problems do you see? What conventional ways of doing things fall short?
After you’ve accumulated a list of ideas and possibilities, you have to have a heart to heart conversation with yourself: Which ones do *you* care about? Not which ones will make you the most money, not which product might be most attractive to some other company who will buy you out. Not even which application or product do people most want or most need.
Creating a commercial-grade application and doing all the things you need to do to be successful is a damn lot of work. The fuel to make that fire burn bright through all the long nights of lonely work will be an idea that grips your imagination and that you are passionate about.