This is a question which haunts me pretty regularly. I don't want to pretend I have a clear answer to this question. It might be different for each one of us. But I have done it a few times and after my second company I started using this simple "10 questions test" to make sure I considered alternative approaches before spending time, money and effort on it. Maybe it can help you too.
10 questions test - part 1:
- I feel nobody is doing it just right.
- I am excited about the topic and the problem.
- I am excited about the market and the industry.
- I am either very good at the topic or I am very excited about learning everything about it.
- The problem or rather the pain I feel is substantial, and I am not the only one who feels this is a real problem.
- Bonus Q: If there's a person or company doing it "wrong" I tried to reach out and help them fix it and it did not work.
This first questions set helps me figure out if the topic and its context is really exciting for me and I actually understand it. For example sometimes there's no market, or I don't want to learn everything there is about the subject because I just want the problem solved. Also helps me not to forget to do my research and points me towards talking to other people about the problem. Many times I would want to just go and do something without making sure I am not the only person feeling this problem.
And yes, you figured it correctly, all answers should be YES. If not, think again.
Second part of 10 question test is helping me think through other ways, typically faster and less painful, how to solve the problem. Starting a company is not always the best solution yet most people often feel (including me) that it's the only way.
10 questions test - part 2:
- I cannot solve the problem within my current circumstance - i.e. within job, company, project I have now.
- I don't know anyone - a person or company - I could join and make a difference in this particular matter.
- There's no other project I'm working on already which answered YES to all questions above and this would be in conflict with.
- I believe the problem has bigger potential than just my current pain point. From what I see today, I can build a lasting company around it.
- I don't mind spending my time and resources on overhead which comes with company admin and formalities.
This second part helps me again to make sure that I did my research and there is no other faster way to solve the problem. Like joining existing company in the industry or existing startup targeting same set of problems. Also often omitted is the check how it matches with my current running plans and obligations. Lastly it allows me to dream up the future and how it might look as the company grows.
Sure, you could say these are not all the question I should be asking before starting a company and you would be correct. But these are questions which help me think in context and not skip typically forgotten yet important initial considerations.
If you enjoyed this one sing-up for next ones and if you wanna talk about your projects or any other interesting topic just get in touch via contacts.