This article aims to make an incredibly simple point, but a point which often gets forgotten.
In summary, if you wish to start a business you need to actively develop your business ideas.
The Problem | Not acting on your ideas
If you’re not actively developing your ideas – your ideas will remain ideas forever.
And more than likely, you’ll never get to the point where you’re running your own business.
Why do people not act on their ideas?
There are lots of reasons why people don’t act on their ideas.
Some of the most common reasons I see:
The Idea Stage is Fun
The idea stage is probably the most fun of all stages of business, it’s really exciting dreaming up ideas of what could be.
What appears far less exciting to people is the part where you have to begin dedicating what was your spare time toward this idea.
This will most likely require you turning down social events or not watching the next episode of the Netflix series that you’re currently loving.
Not sure what to actually do
A lot of people don’t actually know how to act upon an idea of theirs.
This is totally understandable seeing as they’ve most likely never acted upon an a business idea before.
Passive research is easy and entertaining
There’s a big difference between actively and passively researching a business idea.
Passive research generally involves not seeking specific information but instead looking to gain general insight and inspiration about business.
Passive research activities often include watching business founder documentaries, listening to business podcasts and reading business books.
While you will learn from passive research, the information that you’ll be consuming is most likely going to be irrelevant to pushing your specific business forward at its current stage.
I really enjoy this type of passive research but prefer to think of it as an enjoyable hobby rather than actively improving my businesses. If I learn something applicable to a business I’m working on, that’s considered a bonus.
Active research generally boils down to you researching specific questions about your business idea.
The answers to these questions will give you a better indication as to whether your business idea is feasible or not.
Trying to be too smart
I see a lot of quotes about not working hard but working smart.
I totally agree that there are more efficient ways of doing the same task (or not doing it at all). The 4 hour work week was a terrific read about working efficiently.
But I’ve found that in practice, often you have to have done something quite inefficiently to realise a more efficient way of doing it. So my thoughts here would be to get started with something that simply works no matter how inefficient it may be.
If you find some success with the idea, you’ll have plenty of time to make it smarter as you progress.
Waiting for the perfect idea
In many business books you’ll read quotes like “You have to be 10 times better than second best” or you have to be “unique and different”.
Both of these feats would be great to achieve and undoubtedly helpful toward achieving business success.
However if you set your “workable business idea bar” this high, you may find that you’ll never have an idea good enough to work on.
Once again, your idea will become more naturally “unique and different” the longer you work on it and evolve it to meet customer needs. The longer you work on your idea, the more likely will become a multitude better than the competition too…
So I guess what I’m saying here again is… just get started and take it from there.
Solution | Just do something
Not sure of where to start? Here are four steps you can take to get started.
They are listed in no particular order so just start with the one that appeals to you most.
Create a wireframe of your idea
Draw a sketch of how the idea may look.
I use Balsamiq to create wireframes of any product ideas I have. It’s quick and easy to use – you don’t need to be able to draw to use it.
Create a quick financial model
Create a quick financial model for how the business may run.
The key points to think about here are:
– how many customers could the business get over a certain time period
– how much would they be willing to pay (once-off payments or subscription)
– what expenses will be incurred while providing the product or service
– what taxes would be applicable to this business
Here is a template to get started with. You don’t need nearly as much detail as there is in this sheet to tell if an idea if feasible or not but it’s worth thinking about it at least.
Research who is providing a similar service or product that you aim to sell.
Research both direct and indirect competition here.
You’ll learn a tonne by researching best selling competitor products, their pricing and their marketing strategies.
I also find it beneficial to read the reviews of competitor products to see what’s important to your potential customers.
Talk to potential customers
Talk to potential customers and users of your product.
They will tell you most of what you need to know.
Here’s an amazing podcast by Rob Fitzpatirck, the author of the Mom Test explaining “The Right Way to Talk to People About Your Business.”
If after conducting active research on your business idea you decide that it’s a no-go, that is by no means a bad thing.
Perhaps customers weren’t interested or the financial model didn’t seem appealing up. That’s totally fine. Put the idea to bed and start researching another.
As always, thanks for reading!