Still Searching For Your Big Startup Idea?

You’re an entrepreneur at heart and dream of launching a startup. The problem is you’re still waiting for the right idea. Why wait for that “big idea” to knock on your door when you can seek out people already working to turn their dream into reality? You have a choice. Wait for your idea to show up, or choose from the hundreds of concepts percolating all around you.

If you co-found or join a team building something you believe in, you can grow in ways that you can’t imagine. What you may find is that this new growth, insight, and experience were the missing elements to igniting your creativity. Whether or not you ever pursue “your” idea, you’re living the entrepreneur’s dream.

Where do you begin? One place that’s hungry for talent is the startup incubator projects that now exist in many communities. There is always a project coordinator, someone that accepts applications from the teams that hope to use the incubator’s facilities and contacts. Introduce yourself to that person, and express your desire to contribute. You may find that they can connect you with projects both in and out of the incubator that could use your particular talent.

Another avenue worth exploring is Startup Weekend. These events, and others like them, are held in nearly every major city. Some areas of the country take this more seriously than others, so choose carefully. At one event I attended, two young women, who disliked cats, pitched an iPhone app that would alert you if there was a cat in the vicinity. I wish I were joking, but this was an actual startup weekend pitch (my apologies if this was your pitch, but the ridicule is well deserved).

I believe that most Startup Weekend pitches are far more serious, and a few ideas will have real potential. Whether or not you land on a team with a future, the experience you gain working as a team, focusing on the problem, and developing a solution can help sharpen your entrepreneurial instincts. If you’re locked into a career path, you might also find this is an opportunity to break out. An application engineer, for example, dreaming of doing user interface/user experience (UI/UX) design work can find a team that needs those skills and will gladly assign that task – just be sure you can deliver.

Sites like are excellent sources of local and regional business events; you should be tracking what’s happening in your area. Many of these events are free or inexpensive and an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone. Most of us stick to the same conferences and monitor the same online groups year after year. If that world hasn’t already sparked your imagination and opened doors to new opportunities, it’s time to look elsewhere.

It takes maturity to accept that the catalyst for your startup might not be your idea. That doesn’t mean you won’t be sharpening, extending, and nourishing a vision that could fail without your unique contribution. If it must be your idea, I hope you’re content to wait – you may be waiting for the rest of your life.

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