When I set up my first company, The Cobra Group, in Sydney at the age of 22, I had no way of knowing that it would develop, expand and metamorphose a few times into the international organisation it is today. I always had faith in my ideas though and I knew that as long as I worked hard and drew on all my skills, I would be able to put myself in a strong position for business success.
If you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur and you’re not sure if your business idea is the real deal, it’s worth asking yourself the following questions. They could make it easier to identify the strengths, as well as potential weaknesses, of your concept and help you to decide if it’s really worth pursuing.
Are you meeting a need?
One of the first things you should consider is whether your product or service is meeting a genuine need. The best business ideas solve problems or present people with something new and compelling that enriches their lives.
You should have a clear idea of exactly who your company is targeting and what it is about your product or service specifically that will appeal to them. It may be that you’re going after a very niche market. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you’ll need to factor in the size of your potential customer base when you’re making projections about demand and future sales levels.
Always bear in mind that, if other businesses are already offering very similar things and you’re not bringing anything particularly new to the market, you could find it tough to get market cut-through.
Are you getting positive feedback?
You’re bound to be positive about your idea, but what do other people think about it? It can be hard to hear people’s honest impressions about your business concept – especially if it’s something you’ve put a lot of work into and you hold close to your heart. But it’s essential that you canvass opinion on your business idea and plan before you invest too much time and money in it. This means doing plenty of market research.
A good business idea should start to generate excitement and anticipation early on. So, even if you’re emotionally invested in the project, if you’re struggling to win over would-be customers, it’s important to realise (early!) that there may be a problem with your plan.
Can you explain your idea clearly and concisely?
The elevator pitch became a cliché because it’s true. Even if you’re developing a complex product or service, you should be able to explain the basic idea clearly and concisely. If you find yourself waffling when you try to sum up your concept, it could be that it’s still too complicated and needs further refining.
Also, bear in mind that you’ll need to win over customers and possibly also investors in order to make your venture a success. You won’t be able to do this unless you can present your idea in a simple and compelling way.
Launching a new business always takes a leap of faith, but asking yourself questions like these can reduce some of the uncertainty – first and foremost, in your own mind.