As a small business consultant, I am often approached by people who have an idea for a business and want my thoughts on if it is a good idea or not. I find that I give those people the same advice almost regardless of what their idea is or who they are. In a nutshell I tell them “I’m sure your idea is fine. The questions you should be asking yourself is how will you make your business successful and are you the person to do it?”
So, let’s break down that bit of advice into its component parts. There are three: Your idea, your strategy, and you.
In a world seemingly busting at the seams with both good and bad ideas, how does yours rate? Many first time entrepreneurs feel that finding the right idea is similar to a quest for the Holy Grail. It is not. My favorite example of this comes from the movie “Office Space” where the idea of the Pet Rock is discussed, “Sure it was [a good idea]. The guy made a million dollars.” Funny, perhaps, but probably not far from the truth. Gary Dahl, the inventor of Pet Rocks, did make money selling Pet Rocks and even sold the rights to Pet Rocks as recently as 2009. Arguably an awful idea, Pet Rocks actually had a lot of quirky charm as the marketing around them was filled with puns and play on words. And, it was this, not the sale of rocks at incredible markups, which netted Dahl his profits.
The point is, ideas, in and of themselves, rarely have much value one way or another. It is nearly impossible to say one is good while another is bad. We all have that friend who shouts from their couch at commercials that the product is stupid, or that they thought of it years ago. What is the difference between them and the person who is making all that money selling those products and/or services? Effort.
So, when considering a business idea, simply ask yourself if you are a reasonable and intelligent person who is capable of coming up with a sound business idea. If the answer is “yes” then you have what may be a successful business idea, regardless if it is a good or bad one.
Next is your strategy. Strategy is a funny word in the context of business because it essentially gets boiled down to having a sound approach. A lot of meaningless terms get used and misused in the world of business strategy. My personal favorite example is “first mover advantage.” In reality, “the first mover advantage” is often the “first mover disadvantage” as you’ll hit every roadblock along the way and others get to learn from your mistakes. Don’t let little truisms and phrases be the building blocks of your strategy.https://www.businessday.in/
Ask yourself, now that you have an idea, how are you going to really make it a business? The most common misconception here is that strategies that you have seen deployed at an existing business will have any bearing upon your new business idea. There is a huge difference between what is commonly referred to as Corporate Strategy (which is what most any business that has been around for more than 2-3 years use) and New Venture Strategy (which is what you and your new business idea will have to use to get started).
The new venture strategy you use is paramount to the success of your idea. Far more than the idea itself. But, don’t expect most people to know how to play the new venture strategy game. It is unique and subtle, but can be mastered by really thinking deeply about how you are going to get your idea in front of the people who might buy it. “Market Acquisition” (admittedly, another overused and often misused strategy word) will be the most crucial aspect of what you do to make your idea a successful business. As of day one, nobody knows who you are or what you do. How do you plan to change that, in such a dramatic way that you can actually make a business out of it?
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