How to Get Startup Ideas – Ask Customers (finding customer problems)

“Business ideas” are worthless unless they solve a problem.  I guess you could also be entertaining your customers, but even that is solving a problem.  Either way, you need to find enough people to help so you can get paid enough to stay in business.


Think you can start a business without fixing something for a client?


The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.

Peter Drucker



A good business is really just a solution to someone’s problem. So, a “business ideas” should be a solution.  For B-B solutions, you should first choose an industry you are excited about serving.  Then, narrow that industry to a group of similar businesses.  I’d suggest using to find businesses within your criteria.

Next,  you’re going to email a good number of those business owners,  offering to identify their pains.

  • Dane Maxwell, one of his students, started asking, “What do you do with Excel that you would like to be an app?” The guy with “clinic metrics”
  • Tell me about your job, what is the hardest or most painful part of your job?
  • REA’s – got to open houses to ask tons of agents, EASILY!
    • Ask people in your life what they want

Overall Dane Maxwell Steps:
  1. Idea Extraction, what is your pain in your business? what do you use excel for? understand the customer better than anyone else
  2. Fictional Prototype “info pack” of screenshots…validate and further understand with client
  3. Presell 5-15 customers with that idea…would they pay for this set of screenshots if it were a product
  4. Build it (absolutely not until after it is presold to many customers)
  5. Scale it


Add link to category, “Startup Idea Sources”

Other articles in this series:

How to Get Startup Ideas – Ask Yourself (solve your problems)

How to Get Startup Ideas – Ask Customers (finding customer problems) – The Best?

How to Get Startup Ideas – Ask History (after solving customer problems)

How to Get Startup Ideas – Ask Other Startups (during solving customer problems)

How to Get Startup Ideas – Ask Twitter

Update: A project started up around this idea now…

With the right search query, you can discover what apps people are asking for in real time!  Try searching Twitter for “make an app” as in “I wish someone would ‘make an app’ to make me breakfast in bed!”  Here is that query making it’s magic:

You’ll get a lot of noise too, but why not use this as a fun way to see what people are wanting?  Here’s another good one:

So, like Gary Vaynerchuk says, “It (Twitter) closes the six degrees of separation to one degree of separation”.