It often takes 100 great ideas to produce one that truly works – Linus Paul, the originator of the Linux computer operating system, said, ‘The best way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas’.
But a great idea that becomes a product or service needs more than just your courage. To see whether your idea will work, you need to answer these questions:
- Does this product / service replace or improve an existing item or is it a completely new idea?
- What are the alternatives? Don’t forget that DIY is often an alternative for services.
- If it is not a new idea, what is its uniqueness? What makes it special?
- Why is it needed now?
- Although you can see the need for the product, will people outside your friends and family buy it?
- Is the idea time limited (i.e., will it only last for a couple of months or years, or has it a longer life)?
- What will it cost to produce?
- How can it be delivered (i.e., by post, in person, online)?
How do you know that your answers are right? Conviction and self belief is critically important, but firm evidence is what you need to start a successful business.
If it looks likely that there is a genuine need or desire for the item, then you need to do some further research.
HINT: Don’t ask people if they ‘would’ buy the product or service, as everyone responds to a hypothetical ‘would’ with ‘of course, we would’. Instead, ask ‘How likely are you to buy this?’, or ‘How likely are you to pay XXX for this service?’, as the responses to these questions will generate real feedback.