Motivation · Commitments

How do you stick to a startup idea and stop changing your mind?

Karan Rai Founder at Startup, E-commerce Entrepreneur ◆ Fashion & Beauty Writer ◆ Fashion Stylist

October 23rd, 2015

Hi, 

I have a new startup idea everyday. I keep going back and forth between ideas. I can't commit. 

Something keeps taking me back to the one I started with but as soon as someone suggests a better idea, I jump at that idea. 

How do I make a choice and not look back?

MaxBlox/Founder Institute Director, Chennai Area at The Founder Institute

October 23rd, 2015

This is a hard problem. The tongue-in-cheek answer of "Ritalin" can actually provide one answer. If you normally have a hard time making decisions among multiple choices ( as in restaurants), then it maybe a fundamental problem of personality and may require some analysis and treatment.

A second answer is to make an irrevocable commitment to one idea. Such as spending a bunch of money on website/cards etc. Assuming that the ideas are not initial ideas but have gone through some amount of assessment, one choice may be as good as another.

Third: I built a simple spreadsheet to help founders rank their ideas. But it will still require discipline to stick with the top choice. I could not attach a screenshot, since it seems allow only URLs. You can create your own OR connect with me to get the original.


Varun Mehta CEO of Disqovery

October 23rd, 2015

This is the easiest and most exciting part of your journey. If you can't focus on any one idea now, what will happen when you're knee deep in the trough of sorrow? How will you stick with it then?

If you feel this way right now, it likely means none of your ideas resonate enough with you personally. Opportunity size, market validation, and everything else are all useless if you aren't excited enough to focus from day one.

Don Chartier

October 23rd, 2015

A theory -- It's possible that your original idea is pretty seductive on the surface, and then you dig deeper and realize it's not that compelling. Something else comes up that seems more attractive, and you jump on it. In the meantime, you forget why the first idea wasn't so brilliant, and go back to it once the challenges of the second idea become apparent.

So, next time you leave your first idea, write down why. Then tape that note up on the wall so that next time you're tempted to go back to it, you won't.

I hope you don't have the same problem with bad boyfriends...

Also, building on another answer is a "commitment mechanism". I've told everybody I meet that I'm doing "X", so that now if I change my mind, I'm going to have to explain why I gave up. I've put more pressure on myself to stick with it unless and until I'm forced to stop.

Daniel Turner Interaction Designer, Xerox PARC

October 28th, 2015

"Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard." Wasn't that Steve Jobs? 

Again, just making a pitch for doing user research. Stakeholders give poor data on whether your "idea" will be useful to users. Focus groups give extremely poor data. You are not the user; if you take money to build something you know you want, cool, you have a market of exactly one person. 

Again, this is a known field, and one that correlates to sustained product/company orders of magnitude higher than the startup success rate (remember, even 93% of Y Combinator starups are out of business -- not sold, not acquhired, not pivoted, dead -- within a year). Why wouldn't you take a week or two of minimal cost to do something that has been shown to improve your odds that much? Of course, you have to able to accept when data show that the vision you're passionate about means bupkus to real users.

Jeff Fitzmyers Project Manager at Energy Remodeling Inc.

October 28th, 2015

Consider that the reason you can't commit is simply a readout that the right idea for you has not come up. Wait until you are inspired with a timely and useful idea that you love. 

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

October 28th, 2015

Nofyah, I think there's a difference between pivoting on execution of an idea and simply getting started. I would agree with Jeff that if you can't get started then either (a) you don't have an idea that is really inspiring you or (b) you lack the self-confidence to start *anything*. 

Not to play junior psychologist (since apparently my medical advice was ignored), but parsing Karan's words, it sort of looks like (b) to me... in that she is highly influenced by the ideas of others and immediately thinks they're better than hers. But she keeps coming back to her idea, which leads me to believe that she *does* have an idea that inspires her.

First conquer the fear of starting anything and then picking something will come much easier.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

October 23rd, 2015

Ritalin.

Aaron Glinski Digital Marketing Specialist at Vinyl Interactive

October 23rd, 2015

Sometimes I face the same problem. I do three things that help me commit: 
  1. Validate each of the ideas by pitching the ideas to my mentors. Getting feedback from them helps.
  2. Evaluate the resources necessary to make the ideas successful.
  3. Survey a group of people to validate the best idea.
Once you got your idea. Stick with it and make it successful before you move to the next idea. I hope that helps.

Anonymous

October 24th, 2015

Although quick answer is put all ideas you have on a white board. Start putting the pros and cons both in terms of potential revenue, scalability, profitability and your passion for each. It may take you 10 yrs or more to realize the fruits of your venture so be sure to really think about your passion... The idea that makes you want to get up in the morning and not go to sleep at night. Then you need to make a hard stop and just go for that one idea. You have to rein yourself and not get distracted by other ideas. Actually don't worry, once you start your idea and you have invested time and energy you will naturally just be focused on this. Because now you have stake in the game. Start! That's the quick answer. Just do it

Raj Dhonota

November 7th, 2015

I have a lot of people pitch to me as 'ideas' people IE they have of a head full of ideas and would like to know which I would invest in.  My answer is 'none' because they clearly don't have belief or passion for one.  Deep down you will know which idea is the one you feel passionate about.  It may not be one that you think is the most profitable - but it has to be the one you feel most for.

As an investor that invests at concept level (IE in just an idea) - I can assure you that the idea is only a 10% contributor to success - 90% is about how you execute the business idea.  If you are really confused, work out which will be executed the best.

Happy to have a chat if it helps!

Raj