Every business runs on ideas. From the drawing board to their execution, ideas are the fuel that powers your operations, and hopefully you’ve got some great ones in the tank. But for the early-stage entrepreneur, this process can sometimes prove a little shaky. How will you know which ideas are great ones, and which ideas would be better off retooled or maybe scrapped altogether? Here are a few ways to gauge whether your ideas are worth carrying through to the next step.
It’s important to remember that even the most bulletproof idea is only a few words on a piece of paper. Even once executed, you should never lose sight of the next step. Growing a business is just that, making it bigger in incremental stages, so a great idea is one that grows right alongside your company. Facebook is a simple example of this: they scaled up from a user base made up of a few select colleges’ student base, up to covering the entire world. Your scaling might not be that simple, but being easily adapted to growth is part of what makes an idea a great one. A pragmatic and realistic plan is a vital tool for any growing business.
For years, flying cars were the next big idea. We’re still waiting. Sure, skipping the highway on your way to work every morning sounds like a dream to some, but it was an idea that had no meat to it. If your idea can’t be implemented--and hopefully soon--it’s better off staying in your head until it’s feasible. Rushing an idea to market before it’s time can be trouble: the annals of business history are littered with ideas that sounded great, but hit the market just a little too early. By the time the rest of the world caught up, they got swallowed alive by competition that took the time to execute the idea better. That doesn’t mean the idea was useless, just not implementable in its current state. if it’s not creating value in good time, your idea is less than great.
While we usually picture great ideas as complete paradigm shifting, game-changing revolutions that turn our world upside down, the truth is that great ideas usually take a much simpler shape than that. Some of the greatest ideas in history are ones that cut out old middlemen and made formerly complex processes into simpler tasks. It’s called disintermediation, and it has led to huge profits for some bold companies. Take a look at Apple-they sell their iPhones primarily through their own website or dedicated stores. They didn’t need to cut deals with service providers, those providers came to them because the product was so appealing. More than one billion phone sales later, Apple’s disintermediation strategy was a clear winner.
Finally, the one ingredient that will make an idea great isn’t one that shows up in the business plan. I know I’ve hammered home the point that your idea should be realistic and practical, but that doesn’t mean you should be emotionally detached from it. A truly great idea is one that you believe in wholeheartedly--something you’re willing to stake your reputation on. Passion should always shine through in your business, especially in your ideas. That’s how you impress investors, bring on clients, and win over your market. Anyone can come up with an idea. It’s the truly passionate ones who take those ideas and make their business dreams come true through them.