If you have ever come up with a great invention that you just knew would change the world, you’ve probably thought about starting a business. We have all had genius ideas in moments of inconvenience, during travel, or during a frustrating project at work. These thoughts often feel like they could change the world and make us feel like we could launch a multi-million-dollar venture on the spot.
The reality is that the road to get from concept to starting a business is a steep climb. Ideas are always worth exploring, but here are a few of the questions to ask to differentiate between a fun theory and something that could turn into a sustainable business.
Is this a solution to a problem?
All through my career I have seen many ideas that, simply put, were solutions without problems. Right now, the videos of those infomercials where someone is theatrically struggling with a very basic task should be playing in your head. Before you launch into starting a business and getting that business loan, think about whether the solution you have actually has a problem. Is this something only you and a few others struggle with?
Will it stand alone or is it feature to an existing product?
Not every idea is capable of supporting a full-scale business. Sometimes, what we have is simply a great improvement to something that already exists. While that can be incredibly valuable, there is a reason there are so many start-ups that start with an exit plan to get bought or acquired by a bigger fish. Could you develop a workforce, support it and then scale it around this idea? If not, explore other ways to get that idea developed and implemented in some other way.
How will you knock the other pins down?
So, you have gotten past the initial phase of idea viability. This is where the bowling analogy kicks in. Think of your idea is the headpin—you know what your product or service will do. But to succeed you must knock down all 10. You must be able to succinctly and clearly define what the beginning, middle, and end game looks like to stand a chance.
Sure, there are crazy stories of someone starting an online bookstore and becoming the world’s richest man or some college kid who started a website and now runs the world’s top social media network. That is not the majority, and in starting a business that’s truly successful, you must assume that that will not get a strike and plan for what your next move is once that first pin or two has been knocked down.