When you are an entrepreneur, it’s not unusual to be flooded with ideas. From midday brainstorms to midnight inspiration, ideas always come when you’re asking questions or looking for answers.
But with so many ideas coming through and only so many hours in the day, how do you know which ones to follow and which ones to keep locked away for later?
While there is never a black and white answer to that question, there are some ways you can help qualify your idea to know if it will be the next big thing or the next big flop.
1. Uncover the problem
When the idea is forming, look at the problem it solves. Is it a prominent problem that a lot of people have? Is it a problem they are aware of, or do they need to be educated about it? How much education will need to be given?
This will start to help you uncover your target market and how big this market will be.
2. Determine if it’s a need or want
Once you have the problem, determine if it is a need or want. While your market might need the idea you are developing, if they don’t want it, your market will be limited.
You know you are on to a good idea when your target market both needs and wants your product or service.
As your idea is developing, look at what else is out in the marketplace to compete with it. Do you have many competitors or just a few? Is there a market for what you are doing? If you have no competitors is it because it’s an uncharted territory or because others have failed before you? If people have failed, why did they fail? How is your idea different to what is already out there?
4. Delve into the senses
Imagine your idea in use. How will it look, taste, touch, smell or feel? How will people interact with it or use it? What limitations or objections do you imagine people will have? What barriers might you encounter?
5. Seek opinion
Once you have formulated your idea, it’s time to seek feedback. While you need to be protective of your idea (and use appropriate confidentiality agreements) you also need to test your idea before you start investing significant time and money into it.
To do this effectively approach people that will give you different perspectives, from trusted advisors like your accountant, business coach, solicitor or marketing consultant, to trusted friends and most importantly potential customers.
Keep in mind that you want more feedback than, “That’s a great idea!” You want specific details on whether they would buy it, how much would they pay for it, what would they want from it or be able to do with it. How would they want it to look or be packaged?
The more research you can do in the idea stage, the more time, money and potential heartache you will save yourself in the development stage.
Over to you: do you have any tips or tricks for qualifying ideas?