Dream of starting a startup? Use these methods to think outside the box

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We’ve all heard of the world-changing ideas that started because of an ambitious college student — Facebook, Apple, the list goes on. With the quarantine in full swing, now is the perfect time to start a new side project. Despite COVID-19 heavily impacting the economy, recessions have been known to foster several great inventions and companies. During the 2008 Great Recession, household names such as Venmo, Instagram, Uber, Slack and Pinterest were just getting their starts. With all the free time we have now, why not start a business or put your CS abilities to good use? But even if you want to begin something new, you may be stuck wondering about the idea. If you find yourself in this boat, use the following methods to help you think outside the box. 

Ask: What problems do I wish someone would solve for me?

Think about your day-to-day routine. What are the little problems you encounter throughout the day? Maybe you’re looking for free, online and name-brand workout classes to take, but you can’t find a centralized website that connects you to the courses. Instead of pulling your hair out doing the same CorePower Yoga class for the seventh time, build the website that solves your problem! Or maybe you’re tired of checking every food delivery app to see which one offers your favorite chicken sandwich. Build an API that allows you to order your chicken sandwich from one app. Chances are, someone likely has the same pain point you have. Focusing on your daily problems could help expose a new side hustle.

Ask: What problems do I hear need solving?

Contrary to the previous method, think about the problems your family, friends and acquaintances encounter throughout the day. Pull yourself out of the equation and broaden your perspective to include the struggles of those around you. Because all of us face different hardships, you may be blind to some of the most pressing issues for others. And in regard to a new project, those pressing issues are a great place to start. Using your quarantine time to help someone you know with a problem can be a rewarding and engaging way to pass time. 

Apply an old assumption to a new problem

Another way to come up with a new business idea is to start with a generally accepted thesis and apply it to an untouched problem. For example, most people understand the power within artificial intelligence and machine learning. The fact that artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way we live is a generally accepted thesis. Now, try and apply it to an industry that has yet to fully benefit from it, such as construction projects and gas stations. This method allows you to apply industry trends to new territories and can also help mitigate opposition. 

Become an expert in an outdated industry

Consider all the startups started by college students that you hear about. You’re likely thinking about the endless social networking apps, dating apps and food delivery apps. Why is that? It’s because we go with what we know. If you’re looking to get an out-of-the-box idea, think about an outdated industry, such as education, shipping or legal industries. Become an expert in the niche problems that those industries have, and work to solve them. By doing so, you can also remove a considerable amount of competition and make it easier for your project idea to succeed in the long run. 

Hopefully these methods help you come up with your next big idea for a project or business. Leveraging your creativity with the skills you pick up in school can help create positive change during this quarantine.

Contact Brookey Villanueva at [email protected].