Biggest thing I've been struggling with is where and how to begin the process of starting something on my own. Do I look for small, simple and easy to solve business problems? Do I search for a complex business problem to solve? Or do I look to build the next generation of tools for problem solvers to use?
Each have their own pros and cons. Small and simple ideas are the low hanging fruit that are ripe for the picking. You might not need to quit your day job, and you might not need too much cash to get it going. Something tells me though that they aren't exactly the highest paying jobs, and because they are simple, the idea probably already has hundreds of solutions flooding that market space. It would be a good experience, but it might not be worth the time and effort.
Building solutions for complex business problems would be highly rewarding, both monetarily and creatively. The playing field is also probably less saturated, as now you're competing against the big boys - and if you can get into the market before the big boys do, they'll probably just buy you. The problem here is though this budding idea would need to take up 100% of your time. You would also most likely have to quit your day job. But for somebody who is married with a kid and a mortgage, that just might not be an option. You would also need some VC $, so be prepared to give up control of much of your company to get the idea off the ground.
How about building tools? Forget about building the house. Let the builders deal with that. What if you focused on building the newest and best hammer? Web 2.0 is a concept that essentially allows user communities to build, collaborate, share, etc stuff over the web. The software behind that, e.g. wikipedia, facebook, youtube, myspace, flickr, etc are just the tools that give the true content providers - the people - the ability to add real value.
I've realized something however. For me, this is not about weighing the advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the most profitable course of action (although that might be the way some people do it). Sure an entrepreneur's job is to identify problems and solve them to make a profit, but for some strange reason, I want to care about what I'm doing. I want it to matter. I want it to make a difference.
Therefore I've come to the conclusion that I've been going about this the wrong way. Ozzie Goldschmied and I have thought about dozens of ideas in all of the above three buckets - all of which are interesting, and could probably amount to some minuscule amount of success. However the one thing I think we've lacked is the passion and drive to make something of those ideas, and I think its because we both really in our heart of hearts couldn't give two shits about it.
I think the bottom line is - the people who succeed in what they do, like own a business, run a marathon, paint a painting, really care about what they are doing. If I want to be, and most importantly feel, successful in my profession, I need to care about what I'm doing.
Jim on Technorati