Turning a great idea into a business can be a truly rewarding process, or a ton of wasted money and time. Researching your customer and market, surveying and interviewing your potential customers, and deciding if you have the interest and ability to launch an MVP will stop you from falling into many of the money and time traps. Here are some tips on each and why they are important.
All ideas can be considered great, but not all ideas solve a big enough problem to become a business. Researching your customer and market now will stop you from finding this out through bankruptcy after wasting your time and money. When doing your research, make sure you focus on:
Is the idea solving a problem that people have?
Are others solving this problem? If not, why?
What are people currently doing to solve the problem?
How big is the market for the problem you are solving?
These questions will help you understand if there are enough people and money for you to build a business around, and if there are other obstacles that others have found that you need to take into account. This is a free activity that can save you from chasing ideas that would not be good as a business.
If you have an idea that seems like you could build a business around, the next thing to do is to talk to your potential customers. This is another free activity that can save you invaluable amounts of time and money by pointing you in the right direction for how to build your product/service and business. Your goal is to discover new information that will help you:
Confirm or deny your previous findings
Guide you on how to shape your idea from customer feedback
Find out if people are actually willing to pay for a solution and how much
This can be a tricky process due to many people falling into the trap of having a bias in their questions or not asking the right questions. We have a blog post that covers tips on how to create a survey here, and how to conduct an interview here.
You should now have enough information to ask yourself, “is worth it to move forward and to start spending money on the idea?” The best way to answer this question is to:
Create a plan or roadmap on how you would create the business
Research and estimate the time it would take to complete each major step
Research and estimate the expenses for each major step
Find expenses that will be recurring and add them up
Decided if you have the energy, money, and passion to stick to your plan
Spending the time to plan and review now, will help you understand the full cost, time, and energy needed to create a business around your idea. If you can't commit the time or energy, or don't have a good way to pay for the costs, you either need a new plan or a new idea. It is way better to figure this out now before you have wasted money and time by starting too soon.
Completing the above can take as little as 1 month or as long as years to get all the info you need and to be comfortable with a plan to move forward with. This is a normal time frame to do this and will save you ton of money, time, and frustration. In the end, you have a roadmap that will point you in the right direction and you will know what you are signing up for and who and what you will need to succeed.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin