Answer by Peter Baskerville, Started 13 businesses with over 30 outlets in total and currently working on these in the educational space http://www.skillmaker.edu.au/ and http://www.industryprofessor.org/, on Quora,
Start-up ideas work best when they are based on your ability to access and control the necessary means required for it gain timely traction in the market and then grow to financial sustainability.
Your quest is not an easy one but when you can access and control the required means of the environment, resources, experience and "you", you will have the perfect fit or platform from which to launch a start-up idea with at least a reasonable chance of success.
For the means and fit of the environment you should ask yourself the following questions and provide a reasoned response:
- Why is the market so fertile right now for my specific idea? What's changing? Why now?
- Is there a significant change happening in either the social, political, economic or technological environment that my idea specifically addresses? What is it and how does it align to my idea?
- Is the market growing in the niche where I intend to launch my idea? What informs me of this growth?
- What specific intelligence do I have about the market? Have I worked in this area for a significant period of time prior? Am I privy to something that few people know about or understand about this market?
- Is there a pattern that I see emerging in the market that presents as a perfect fit for my idea? How will this pattern convert to customer demand?
For the means and fit of the resources you should ask yourself the following questions and be able to provide a reasoned response:
- Do I have an 'unfair advantage' in this market over my competitors? (i.e. market intelligence, access to unique resources, relationships with key stakeholders)
- What resources do I have that are unique and valuable and would be impossibly expensive for others to copy? (i.e. physical, informational, financial, organisational, reputational, human)
- Do I have a rare gift that affords me a huge advantage in this market over my competitors?
For the means and fit of the experience you should ask yourself the following questions and be able to provide a reasoned response:
- Do I have sufficient experience in operating or at least working in a small to medium enterprise? How much time? In what capacity? How will this prepare me for my own start-up enterprise?
- Am I a technical domain expert in the area of my idea or am I partnering with someone who is?
- Do I have sufficient experience in starting new businesses or do I have a mentor who has? What previous failures will help me succeed this time? What do I know about building and implementing a business model, the customer development processes and the entrepreneurial management of lean startups?
For the means and fit of the "you", you should ask yourself the following questions and be able to provide a reasoned response:
- Do I have a passion for the 'meaning' and 'better life' that my idea is going to make for my customers? What will motive me to stay in the game when it gets tough and when success comes slower than expected?
- Does the work and tasks required to make this idea successful suit my personality? Am I really up for the long hours and total commitment that startups demand?
- Does this idea align comfortably with my 'Meaning To Life'? Does this feel like the sort of work I am meant to do .. born to do?
- Is the launch of this idea and subsequent enterprise a good fit for where the rest of my life is at present? (relationships, responsibilities, head-space)
Launching a successful startup based on an idea is no different to farming. You need to plant the right seed (idea), with the right soil (unique resources), in the right season (market conditions) with the right person (experienced) and a strong and sustainable outcome is the result.
So ask questions around these proven ingredients for success and with reasoned responses, satisfy yourself that your start-up idea will give you at least a reasonable chance of success.
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