Coming up with ideas is not easy. I used to believe that only talented people are able to come up with great ideas. That it’s a talent they are born with. I used to also believe the same for design. But once I started demystifying it I realized it’s just a matter of passion and practice.
The last week I spent a lot of time reading about the skill of generating ideas. I realized that it’s a skill I have to develop and not a talent I have to be born with. I realized I only need to find a way to teach it to myself, practice it and make progress.
My main issue was and still is that my ideas are too mainstream. They are not focused enough on any niche. They are not creative or practical enough. Something in my process feels wrong. The fact that I focus on coming up with ideas feels wrong itself. I know deep inside me that I should focus more on understanding and observing a specific audience and identifying problems that worth solving. It should be more about observation and research and less about brainstorming.
So what I am missing here? Structure and a process. That’s why I got lost and disappointed the last weeks. It’s the exact same issue I had with networking. I only had a goal without any clear process to guide me how to think and measure my progress.
A few weeks ago I asked the surfing community to write me about problems they have. Today this question feels wrong to me. Asking people about problems they have is too vague. Problems on what? On learning to surf? On getting to the surf spot? On buying equipment? It’s like I’m expecting them to give me the idea I should work on and help me skip the step of problems research.
I get why I act like that. It’s uncomfortable to do customer development. To talk with a community on a frequent basis, interview people and just observe how they tackle with problems they have. Customer development was never a core-part of my work routine. I used to be a product designer and developer, and I rush all the time to get to the point where I can build a product. Because it’s comfortable and more exciting for me. But entrepreneurship is not only about excitement. It’s about doing the uncomfortable things as well, and becoming good at them.
At some point it was clear. I had to focus on improving my customer development skills. Once I learn how to spot opportunities and problems worth solving I will be able to come up with a good idea. I opened my todo list and added a task for next week “Buy and read a book that will teach me how to do proper customer development”. Buying a book felt like the best first step since I don’t know any tools, or framework to follow for customer development. Once I find some, I can start practicing them and see how it goes.