How do you decide which business ideas are worth executing & what does that process look like? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by James Altucher, author, entrepreneur, podcaster, wall street investor, on Quora:

Maybe smokers should date only smokers? Is that a business idea? Tinder for smokers? Hold on a second.

When Jimmy Paige told The Who he was going to start his own band, they laughed at him. They said it would go down like the Hindenburg.

Hence the name "Led Zeppelin". Which ended up selling more albums than The Who and The Rolling Stones combined.

What this means: people can't predict. Not even the experts in an industry can predict. So it's very hard to find a new business idea.

But businesses get started. And businesses succeed. So I'll tell you what I've done to try new things and then try to protect my risk.

Making a business idea is like creating a work of art. Picasso created 50,000 words of art.

More than one piece of art a day. Most of them were probably bad. He wrote poetry for instance. Did you know that? I didn't until I read it the other day.

We used to live in something called "The Industrial Revolution". But when was the last time you stepped into a factory? When was the last time you saw one?

Now we live in the Idea Revolution.

Previously labor was a currency. You'd give labor, companies would give you currency.

Now ideas are the currency of the 21st century.

The good thing about ideas is your brain is the ATM machine. The way you get good ideas is by first practicing having thousands of bad ideas.

Many people have let their idea muscles atrophy. But good business ideas come when you exercise your idea muscle.


This is easy. Write down 10 ideas a day and you exercise the idea muscle. This reloads the ATM machine of ideas in your head.

The more ideas you have, the more exercise your idea muscle gets, you still will have 99% bad ideas, but eventually one or two ideas will stick out and you will call them "Visions".

Within six months of doing this, your idea muscle will be like an idea machine. It will be a super power.

Then you test out: is this idea truly a vision for making people's lives better? Are you one step ahead of everyone else? Is today the day of magic?


Then you take an idea and you come up with "execution ideas" (execution is really just a subset of ideas - don't let people tell you "ideas are a dime a dozen" - they aren't).

And you try out ideas. You test a business. Does it have a customer? When you wave the flag do people salute?

One time I started ten different businesses at the same time. Nine failed.

(Yes, a dating site for smokers only that I set up. And, of course, it failed. But I executed).

One worked and sold for millions nine months later. This is how ideas and execution go hand in hand.

Even in the past year or so I've started several businesses. Two turned to nothing, one has been flourishing and grows every month.

It all comes from writing down ideas every day and taking small execution steps to see what works.

Then there's a saying: don't throw good money after bad.

Don't throw good ideas after bad. Ideas you will keep coming up with. So move on and start your next business if your testing for your first business doesn't work out.

Time, persistence, love, ideas, vision, experiment = Customers = Business.

This is a long way of saying: you won't know before you have the first date. You'll know when you start to kiss.

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