Everybody has great ideas. (That includes you.) But taking those ideas and turning them into successes that make other people drool? Well, that requires some timing savvy. Madame C.J. Walker--America's first female self-made millionaire--learned that through experience, using her own struggles and professional work with hair to develop her own company. Walker's products have endured for more than 100 years, with Sundial Brands and Sephora now partnering to deliver an entirely new line, Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture. Richelieu Dennis, CEO of Sundial Brands, shares five signs that, like C.J. Walker's fresh concept for hair products, your idea is ready to launch.
1. Your target customer is passionate.
Cultural and political issues, availability of other products, and even technology can make people feel comfortable with what they already have. But when an aha! moment is ripe for development, people feel excitement and an emotional connection to it, a sense of urgency to get it and keep it around. They link the product in their minds to good experiences they've had, as well as to the desire to make life better for themselves and others.
"Your intended consumers will emotionally connect to the idea with a fanatical passion for promoting it to their networks," Richelieu says. "[They'll] demand your products above all others and proactively become a critical grassroots extension of your team."
2. Potential partners and retailers believe in what you're offering.
Even if your buyers are behind you, that's only half the story. Partners and retailers have to get behind you, too, enabling you to deliver the product or service in a way that's practical and efficient for everybody. Move forward when a retailer or sales channel is willing to invest their time, resources and shelf space to get the idea to the market, and when you're willing to give them the credit they deserve for seeing beyond just potential.
3. Your business has a clear mission (and it's not just earning money).
One of the reasons people end up feeling passionate about a good idea is that the concept connects in some way to the larger social good, fixing an existing problem. Richelieu asserts that you should go to bat for your concept when you have a clear grasp of how it can simultaneously affect both your economic model and your community.
4. It's more than a job.
The bonus to having a clear mission is that, when you have a real "why" behind what you do, you're going to stay more motivated to do the work the brand will need. "Talented people are willing to work for your idea (even if you can't pay them what they make elsewhere)," says Richelieu. "They are dedicated [and] see the big picture and cannot wait to be part of your journey."
5. Nothing can extinguish your inner fire.
When an idea is just so-so, you might feel passionate about it for a little while. But with a true aha! moment that deserves to be put on a pedestal, it's undeniably your calling. As Richelieu asserts, "It's something you just can't shake or stop thinking about. But more importantly, it's an idea with an inner pull so strong that you cannot imagine doing anything else. After all, if you do not do it, it's most likely that you will sit down one day and realize that someone else has."
If you're lucky, you might have an idea that meets all these points within a very short timeframe. But more often than not, you'll have an idea that satisfies just a few of the criteria. Don't toss it into the garbage! Just be patient and wait until the right moment, and then put everything you've got into development. Good things, remember, often can't be rushed.