It’s happening right now: somewhere, someone is having a great business idea. Probably it happened to you many times. But, how do you transform that moment of inspiration into something people would wait in a line to get first?
Magazines, blogs, and websites are full of stories like this one: they had an Eureka moment, they started working in the garage and now they’re on every cover. It all started with an idea, the kind that we all stumble upon while walking the dog or washing the dishes.
However, we know that not every “great” idea can actually make it to the cover of Wired or Forbes. There’s a path that every thought will have to walk, and most of the times even climb, to get there. And it all begins with the fact that your idea has to solve a real existing problem for people that have the money to pay for it.
There are many filters you can use to learn if that great idea that keeps you awake is an actual and sustainable business opportunity or not.
These questions would save you a lot of time (and money) on the way:
- What do you want to do?
The first thing you’ll need here is an existing problem: your idea will be the solution to it. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem you have yourself. It’s important to be as objective as possible and try to think like the people that actually have that problem, on how they’re currently dealing with it and why they would prefer to pay for what you have to offer instead.
- Who are you helping here?
More specifically: who’s going to buy your product or service. The more you know about your market, the happier the ending of your success cover story. How much money they have? What do they do for a living? Have they children or not? Which level of education they have reached? How they spend their free time? How will they use your product? You’ll love to hear that there are two magic words for all these precious questions to be answered: Focus group.
- Can you create a prototype?
When you become an entrepreneur, one of the first things that will come to your mind will be how to save money. Because you’ll have to invest a lot before you even have anything to sell. So instead of rushing, you must start by making a minimum viable product or prototype. You can make samples and go test them with your potential clients. Ask them how they feel about it and take good notes of their feedback. See what changes you can make to reach their needs. And if it doesn’t work at all, it will be better to know it in advance.
- Are there enough people out there who want this?
Think about your audience in the most objective way you can. It’s true that you don’t want every single person to buy your stuff, but it is also right to ask yourself if you have a big enough market to make the whole trip worthwhile. Try to see what are the trends for this market and if it has good potential to grow within the next few years.
- Who’s going to lend a hand?
Every business needs money to start up, and most of the times you’re going to need someone else to invest in it. Depending on the nature of your company, you can consider governments institutions, grants or funding. Researching is the key: there are several ways to find that capital you need, it’s not always obvious how to do it. Check on your local development offices, colleges, and universities and find out what they offer.
One of the bests aspects of being an entrepreneur is that you can learn all you need to know on the way. Ask yourself the right questions, do the homework and find the best information you can. And if it doesn’t work and you can see it on time, turn the page and go to the next great idea.