We’ve all been there. The hardest stage of a business…the beginning. You know the feeling—endless thoughts racing. Which idea is better? Would this be successful? Is it a need in the market? Is it even an idea?! As Alan Hall says on Forbes, for entrepreneurs overflowing with ideas, “Their never-ending challenge is to pick a winner—(only one!)–out of scores of possibilities, and run with it.”
As Laurie Stach of MIT Launch has explained, there are three major steps to formulating, evaluating, and executing your ideas: Discovery, Filtering, and Analysis. Here is a series of processes and concepts you should be thinking of when trying to output your next successful business.
Keep Up with Global Events and Trends
Know the latest trends and preferences in your target industry. Even if you don’t know what field or space you want to delve into, having an open mind and pinpointing values of modern consumers can lead you there. According to The Economist, some of the latest trends businesses can pick up on include:
- a social world
- mobility and ease of use
- social challenges intertwined with a business’s mission
Check out small business trends and macro trends as well to jumpstart your ideas. Remember, don’t simply try to mold an idea out of these emergences in the world. Rather, think how an area of interest that appeals to you can be altered or improved to accommodate some of these new trends.
Follow Your Passion
We hear this all the time, but it couldn’t be closer to the truth. However, what really is your passion? Sometimes, it’s hard to pick out exactly what gets someone going, but Andrew Medal on Entrepreneur has some great advice: “Over the years, real passions grow clearer and mere distractions fade away. At the same time, critical skills have time to develop. This is the essence ofMalcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule. Then, if you’re lucky, you get a shot to double down on your dream.” When formulating an idea, think about the intersection of your interests (mobile/technology, lifestyle, education, etc.) and the platform (after research of course) you think would best thrive (product, service, app, etc.). Think about what you (or your team) do well. David Kidder says in his book The Startup Playbook that “your startup must be rooted and flow from your innate gifts.”
Look Into Needs and Gaps
This is one of the most effective and meaningful ways of finding new ideas. Obviously, you can just think of the daily problems you encounter in life, but to really look in-depth at an issue and its solution, this three-pronged process (needs, gaps, and trends) works well. As defined by Laurie Stach of MIT Launch:
Needs: “Needs are ways that current customers of the market are being underserved relative to their desired conditions.” In other words, look into what current consumers are lacking, something that could make their lives easier, more enjoyable, or simpler. Try asking consumer themselves what they feel is lacking through email, market research, surveys, etc. Look into Craigslist as well. As Medal explains in another Entrepreneur article, “Think about it, people go to Craigslist and make posts about different services/products they need.”
Gaps: “Gaps represent opportunities to appeal to a specific niche group of customers in a more specialized way.” Basically, you are looking to apply a certain concept or product to a different target market than is already served. This “gap” might be a lack of technical knowledge, capital, or access to certain technologies. Identify a specific audience and envision what offerings are unavailable to that population due to certain barriers. As Zeynep Ilgaz explains on Entrepreneur, “When sorting through your ideas, make sure to hone a unique selling point. You don’t necessarily need to dream up a brand-new invention; you can also enhance an existing idea.”
Analyze, Analyze, Analyze
By now, you might have a list teeming with scattered ideas. Before diving into business, you need to “filter” your thoughts and decide; in the end, you can only choose one, so you need to make sure you give proper consideration to each idea. Laurie Stach of MIT Launch suggests three lenses of analysis: Customers, Competition, and Feasibility.
Customers: It’s crucial to look at an idea from the perspective of the target market rather than yourself. Stach emphasizes the question: “Is it a must-have or nice-to-have solution?” It is vital that your offering addresses something missing in the market today. Paula Andruss tells entrepreneurs to envision themselves as potential customers.
Competition: Keep in mind that niches and differentiation is a necessity for any startup. Check the possibility of obtaining a US Patent for your product or service (as well as to see what’s already out there on the market). Inc. magazine suggests asking “Why is the market so fertile right now for my specific idea? What’s changing? Why now?” Competition is a huge part of timing; dig deep and ask current consumers what they consider shortfalls and weaknesses of your current competition to get a sense of what your company should focus on.
Feasibility: It’s time to be practical here. Do I have/can I obtain the necessary technology? Will I have enough capital to foster growth? Am I making too many assumptions when it comes to my consumers’ beliefs? This is where you review over your research and preparation to see if your idea is something that has a potential to succeed. If you’re ready, write down your revamped thoughts of how you envision the business running. As AllBusiness explains on Forbes, “What you need is a simple and concise summary of your business concept, a one-page document that you can refer back to anytime you need to touch base with your original thoughts.”
NOTE: This article was originally published on Examiner.com.
This blog is very well written and trendy. I agree with your points of how to turn your ideas into a million dollar business. I like how you say to keep an open mind. In the business world I can see how things can get very difficult and may not go your way at first. Also, with things not going your way it is important that you do keep following your passion like you mentioned. I have learned in my life that if you want something do not give up because anything is possible. Analyzing is very important when reviewing your ideas and I enjoyed reading all of your tips about it. Such a great post.
Thanks, Kylie! You make some really good points as well about tenacity and motivation. That’s always crucial in business, especially just when starting up!