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Tips for Coming Up With Your Million-Dollar Business Idea

This article is part of our Business Startup Guide—a curated list of our articles that will get you up and running in no time!

When I was a kid, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was going to be the next Boris Vallejo! (You know, the famous fantasy and sci-fi artist who always painted ripped, shirtless men and buxom, bikini-clad women atop flying dragons and Pegasuses—yeah, I wanted to be him.)

There were two problems with my future career plans though: 1) I wasn’t very good at art, and 2) my parents made it clear there wasn’t a snowball’s chance that they would pay for me to go to art school.

With my adolescent dreams up in flames, I decided to get back at my unsupportive mom and dad the only way I knew how: I became an entrepreneur. And that choice became a different kind of fantasy entirely.

My Story
I stole the ideas for my first startups from other people. In the early 1990s, my brother was working for a company that was going through the roof selling shareware software via catalog. We thought, “Hey, we can do that!” And we did, until the internet came on the scene a couple of years later and left us holding our floppy disks in our hands.

My next venture didn’t fare much better. I tried to catch the specialty coffee wave and was swept under a tsunami of Starbucks’ venti lattes.

With my third business, I didn’t even try to be original—I purchased a custom framing franchise and piggybacked to success on someone else’s name.

What I’m saying is, I’m wholly unqualified to offer startup advice.