Business Success Myth #27: All You Need Is a Good Idea

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On July 25, 2016

Business-Success-Myth-#27-All-You-Need Is-a-Good-IdeaWe’ve all known people who have claimed that they had a great idea that could have made millions—only to have someone else beat them to the punch. Maybe you’ve even been that person on occasion. You had an idea for a product, service, or business that could have been wildly successful—but it didn’t happen. Why not? Could it be that simply having a good idea isn’t enough?

There is nothing wrong with having good ideas. They’re great! We need more of them. But once the idea comes to you, there are some questions you need to ask yourself before jumping into your idea with both feet. Here are just a few.

  • Who is your market and can you reach them? It’s not good enough to say, “There are 100,000,000 potential users for my widget. If I can just capture 10% of that market, I’ll be in clover!” You have to do research to identify exactly who is likely to purchase your goods or services. And even if you can identify a specific market, do you have the means to reach them? Do you have the credibility? What about the marketing savvy?
  • Is your idea scaleable? It’s one thing to create a prototype product or service and tweak it to meet the needs of an individual customer. That may work if you are offering a “boutique” solution, but can that idea be reproduced on a larger scale?
  • What kind of money will you need? A lack of cash (for materials, infrastructure, personnel, marketing, sales, delivery, etc.) can kill a great business idea. Do you know how much you’ll need—and how quickly you’ll be able to replenish your cash? Here’s another look at why cash matters.
  • Do you have the personnel to make this happen? Even a great idea can die if you don’t have the right people on board to make it happen. It’s not just a matter of hiring people who support you and believe in your idea, either. You need quality people who are equipped to actually do the work. Where will you find the right people?
  • What is your plan for growth? What are your key performance indicators (KPIs)? What specific plans do you have in place if you miss your goals? What about if you hit your goals or even exceed them? What are your next steps?

Even if you have a great idea, it can still go off the rails. Author and speaker, Richard Watson posted an article on a while back in which he looked at 5 ways to stop good ideas from going bad. You can read the whole article here, but here are his five main points:

  1. Be pragmatic. 90% right and in market is better than 100% and not.
  2. Think like an upstart start-up. Apply half the time and half the money rule.
  3. Walk in the shoes of the final customer. Do the shoes hurt?
  4. Say to yourself, maybe the other person is right.
  5. Seek out the opinions of disinterested outsiders. Is it still a good idea?

Great ideas are good things, but they don’t ensure business success on their own. Ask questions about your ideas and your plans. And if you don’t have the answers, don’t be afraid to ask for help in getting them. That’s how great ideas become great businesses.