Have a million business ideas, but don’t know where to start? Overcoming the Too Many ‘Dumb’ Ideas Syndrome

I believe there is definitely such a thing as a dumb question (apparently people haven’t learned how to properly Google yet). But, I don’t believe there are dumb ideas.

And yet, we think this about our own ideas the majority of the time.

I always have a million ideas or business concepts in my head which I would like to pursue. Yet, I only act on 1% of these ideas.

Why? Well, either I don’t know where to start, or I think they will take me nowhere.

With so many young people having their own side business, hustles, or blogs (cough), there are ideas everywhere. The number of ‘start-ups’ or entrepreneurs I have encountered in the last couple of months is astounding.

On the outside, this new world of entrepreneurship looks like it would foster idea-generation, but it is actually discouraging. There are the thoughts: “someone has probably already thought of that before” or “nah, that’s dumb and I won’t make any money from it”.

Or so many ideas swirl in your head, you don’t know which basket in which to put your proverbial eggs. You may start one idea, get distracted, and do it inconsistently (which this blog has been a victim of).

How do you get past the idea that ‘this is dumb’ and just get to the ‘doing, not thinking’ part of things, as an old coworker used to advise me.

1. Challenge the distorted thinking that your ideas are ‘dumb’

I am going to get all psychologist on you right now and talk about your automatic thought patterns (thank you to years and thousands of dollars of therapy…). They aren’t helping you.

When you think that all of your ideas are ‘dumb’, you are showing All or Nothing Thinking (or black and white thinking), where you think only of the outcomes at either extreme: good or bad. For example, your first blog post doesn’t get a lot of readership and you automatically think ‘my blog is a dumb idea’.

But is it? How to get past this?

  • Challenge those thoughts with facts.
  • What facts support the thought that your ideas are dumb?
  • Have you even tried to see if people are interested in it first?
  • Are ALL of your ideas really dumb?
  • Is it possible that a couple, or even one, could be a great or even mediocre?
  • What even is a dumb idea? An interesting article from Forbes cites a number of ‘dumb ideas’ which became quite successful: think snuggies.

Simply seeing those questions on paper challenges your perceptions.

2. See at least one idea to fruition, even if it won’t make you money AND it fails

Execution is my arch enemy. When you think something won’t go anywhere, it is hard to motivate yourself to do it. Even this blog took a very long time before I felt comfortable writing and putting myself out there publicly. And even then, I find it hard to motivate myself to continue writing when I see so many other blogs or individuals writing as well.

This is where most bloggers would cite the ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’, but I hate inspirational quotes. Sometimes it is not that easy to just move ahead and do. We get in our way.

From one over thinker to another:

  • Just F***ing pick one thing, and do something with it (ANYTHING)
  • Keep goals small and achievable (just like weight loss, people give up). Want a professional looking website or a youtube channel with thousands of followers? Maybe start with uploading one video a week, or even every two weeks.
  • Stop comparing what others are doing on social media. Regardless if it is the same idea, you are different people. Yeah, there are lots of you tubers out there, but you may bring something new to the table they do not — just go for it.
  • Don’t put yourself down when you drop the ball. That won’t help you (but, its hard I know). Sometimes, we are just busy and not focused. It happens.

You will eventually see some results, be it small. This will help motivate you to continue.

Not all ideas are business ideas — sometimes they are hobbies or passions. If it doesn’t make you money, don’t quit your job. Just put time outside of work into it. Prove to yourself first that you even have the balls to commit to it first before being solely reliant on it. If it will never make you money, than just do it for fun (like writing a novel). It will make you happier in the process.

3. Ask outsiders to help push you, and try not to listen to the others

Surround yourself in times where you looking to push yourself only with those that will support you, and not bring you down. Those friends who say ‘but that is really hard to do’ or ‘you will need to work really hard to get that going’. Duh, of course. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

Ask some close friends you trust to ask you about your venture on a regular basis and check in on you to see why you haven’t been doing something on it recently.

Go to a coworking space to work. Find like minded people who want to work or brainstorm together. Even if they don’t agree with the idea, they won’t say anything. You may think their idea is odd. But you can encourage each other regardless.


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