I believe that the best ideas are ones which come to you, not the ones that you seek. As Herman Hesse points out in his book Siddhartha. Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I love music and am deeply passionate about it. Musicfellas happened to come to me (story)
A good idea is one which keeps you up at night. It is one which grabs hold of you and doesn't let you go. It makes you feel as if there is nothing else you'd rather do. And it gives you the feeling that if you don't puruse it, you are going to regret it for the rest of your life, always asking yourself, "What if"?
You'd hate for someone else to do it and win - it has to be you because you thought it first. Or, because you know that noone else will feel so passionate about it as you do, nobody will understand its importance as much as you do and it will not matter to anyone else as much as it means to you.
You want to do it because you know you can do justice to it. You have the skills, drive and intention to take it all the way. You know that it is not just another one of your in the shower world changing ideas. This one's different.
You have dated many a women in your life but none compared to this came along. And now, you know that you would leave your philandering days and settle for this one for good.
That's a good idea.
See, running a startup is immensely hard. Harder than you'd have imagined, harder than anyone would have told you about. To pursue it till the end, you need conviction in your own heart, the oft used word called 'passion'. There will be times when everything would seem lost but your sheer conviction in the idea would drive you ahead inspite of all the naysayers, all the negativity. So, the idea better be a good one. Hell, it doesn't matter if it is a good idea or bad. All that matters is does it move you. If it does, you can start from there.
From MF: I once had the idea in my small room in Bombay with smell of H2S gas from the enarby garbage dumping ground seeping in. I couldn't sleep that night. It made me stay awake and plan and research and think. That was a good feeling and validation. If and when I start something new, I now know of a feeling which I should check
End Note: Not saying that a regular good business idea isn't good or won't work. But, it just makes things easier to continue running when things get worse.
InternalStarted writing a blog. Learnt if I could actually sustain the habit of writing
ExternalAt some point it was pretty much useless to conisder external validation because I was too much into it. That was probably a mistake.
Fine Tuning - Internal Validation
It helps to know that your idea is not a fleeting flight of imagination. But, sometimes, even after all the thinking through, you can't be sure. This requires some validation. It could be of any sorts. Maybe you could imagine yourself five years ahead and think of how you'd feel if you were the leader in that space. Remove the future success, money and fame - would you want to be associated with that idea. Or well, discard this thought experiment - do something actionable and concrete. I don't have much data on how others do it but I can tell you how I did it with Musicfellas.
From MF: I discussed this idea with a friend and he suggested I start writing about it which made total sense. I never considered myself too much of a writer but the feeling of wanting to do something in music was always there. Whether in college, where I wanted to start a music magazine or the desire to form a band with a bunch of people who had absolutely 0 experience with playing any instruments or had ridiculously low budget to buy any instrument or tuition. So, I decided to write. I wrote about music, of the bands I liked, on topics which seem juvenile - like the best TV show soundtracks where my definition of 'best' came from the tiny number of shows I had watched. But, I was passionate about it. Every day after work, I felt like coming home to write about music instead of going out to grab a drink. It was not as if there were people waiting for me to write a new post. I didn't really have any followers except a bunch of poor friends who underwent the torture of my consistent insistence for them to read my latest post. But, I felt good.
This seemed like a good validation at the time, and in my next startup, I'd probably look for the same in some form.