Your Business Idea: Hot or Not?
You’ve noticed something that nobody else has. You’re excited about all the possibilities and your imagination is running riot. You’re paying attention to the idea that won’t leave you alone. Should you go for it?
The only way to know is to try it. But although the experience would be valuable, you just can’t commit to every idea you have. And this article would be both short and useless.
The Two Vital Questions
So how do you assess your idea? Here are the two vital questions you have to answer:
- What problem are you solving?
- How will you make money from your solution?
These don’t apply to every successful business idea — the laser was famously a solution in search of a problem and Google had no idea how to make money from search when it began — but you can be pretty sure you need answers.
It’s worth bearing in mind at this stage Lord Broers‘ tongue-in-cheek observation, “An invention will only succeed if it lets people be lazier.”
You’ll need more than two good answers above to test your idea. YCombinator funds start-up companies; they know a lot about business ideas. Here are some of the questions they ask:
- What’s new about what you are doing?
- What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don’t get?
- What are people forced to do now because what you plan to make doesn’t exist yet?
- How will you make money?
- Who are your competitors? Who might become competitors? Who do you fear most?
- How long before you have a prototype? A beta? A version you can charge for?
- Which companies would be most likely to buy you?
- Why would your project be hard for someone else to duplicate?
- What might go wrong?
Even if you don’t plan for a company to buy you, deducing who might will show you potential collaborators as well as competitors. It will increase your awareness.
A Great Idea Is Not Enough
So you’ve got all the answers? Congratulations — your idea is more likely to succeed than most.
But a successful business is more than a great idea; it’s a great idea executed superbly. That’s another story…