You are THE next startup star with your billion-dollar idea. You sit here in this moment in time with at least three good ideas rattling around in your head. (Some of us have a lot more than three.) That is why you read Inc. magazine, or the inc.com web property, or did a search for startup business terms where the search results got your attention.
So, Ms. Idea Monster, what are you doing with your ideas?
Are you waiting for permission from someone? Many of you show up at my open office hours looking for some idea validation nod from me. (It will never come as I don't ever tell someone whether their idea is good or not.)
Some of you feel the need to do a considerable amount of research before letting the idea out of your head. If you are a current or former corporate person - this is the way you were trained. Your go-to muscle is to gather some Gartner or Forrester analysis to prove to someone that this is a ready market. (Hint, you have a lot more work to do before any of this information will be of any use to you.)
Most of you will never take an idea out into the wild due to a fundamental fear of failure. Finding out that your idea, which has been massaged perfectly in out brains for weeks or months or even years, is not very good hurts a lot. Some of us never let the idea out as it is safer stuck inside.
Others try and play the probability game and work on a bunch of ideas with the thoughts that the odds of finding a successful idea increase with volume. More ideas are not better than fewer ideas. Ever. It just does not work that way.
There are major problems with your idea thinking process:
- You assume that the idea is all of the value,
- You assume that you alone have to process the idea,
- You have no process for your ideas.
The reality of idea processing is that the biggest problem is not whether the idea is any good, it's that you have no evaluation system for your ideas. Every startup expert, serial entrepreneur, and experienced business builder talk about getting their idea out of their head and into the world.
Here are five idea evaluation techniques that I use. For each idea:
- Make a list of 5 professional friends to share the concept with.
- Create a one-page document outlining the concept at a high level.
- Prepare a 5 minute (max) pitch of the concept.
- Take notes or record their questions about the concept.
- Evaluate their questions as to pluses/minuses of the concept.
Developing an idea evaluation process that is outside of your own self is a necessary tool that every great entrepreneur has mastered.