“You don’t need an idea, you need an I-did.” — Scott Ginsberg, author and strategist.
We all seem to know someone who’s constantly coming up with ideas, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into business success. Having the knowledge, resources and gumption to turn your idea into an enterprise is what makes the difference between a creative idea generator and an entrepreneur. Maybe you’ve decided to get moving in the new year, but how do you know if your idea is any good?
Begin with a feasibility check:
Product/Service Feasibility: Can the product you have in mind actually be created? Is the service something that can be delivered?
Market Feasibility: Is the product or service something the market needs? Will it be accepted by customers? Is there demand?
Financial Feasibility: Do you have the resources to develop your idea? Can you find partners to support you? How much would it cost to develop? Can you make enough revenue to be profitable?
Just as there is a difference between an idea and a product, there is a difference between an innovation and a scalable business. Something might be interesting, and even needed, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got a business. Imagine an app that goes viral with many $1.99 downloads in the first few weeks but doesn’t get much traction after that. Cool, but not a company!
Brazen Growth Group Member Zoe Scharf was bored with sending impersonal well-wishes to friends and family, so with her cofounder Joe Fischer helped create greetbl, a company that helps you send personalized, affordable, three-dimensional greetings. These unique gifts are certainly a design innovation (and really cool-looking!), but greetbl would not have been a viable and successful company had Zoe not thought carefully about feasibility, learned what it would take to turn her idea into a business and made adjustments as the market required.
Once you’ve run your idea through these “feasibility checks”, the next step to seeing if the idea is actually a business is filling out a Business Model Canvas, originally developed by Alexander Osterwalder. This tool helps you focus your idea and test its feasibility by answering questions about your value proposition, customers, activities and outcomes. It’s a living document, so you can adjust it as you learn.
Checking the feasibility of an idea will take time and research. The practices of gathering information are just as important at the idea-stage as when you’re getting ready to launch.
We’ve shared some tools for determining if your idea is a good one, but don’t underestimate one simple way to get feedback on your idea – talk about it! Here are a few questions you should ask yourself and others as you turn one of your great ideas into a business:
– What is the problem your idea solves?
– How is your solution better than what’s currently on offer?
– Can you clearly articulate the benefits of your product or service?
– What else exists in the market? Has it been tried before? What’s worked and not worked?
– How will you generate revenue?
– Will people buy it? For how much? Is that enough?
– What resources do you need to make it happen? Do you have them? Can you find them?
– What feedback have you gotten from potential partners and customers?
This might seem daunting, but let’s return to the “I-did”. You are the person with the good idea, the persistence to pursue it and the tenacity to ask good questions. You may have a million ideas, but don’t get lost in the plenty. Start with one.