Not just new ideas, better ones

Got an idea, but you’re unsure about its chances of success? You’re not alone there. When inspiration strikes, it often isn’t enough to sell investors on just the idea itself. Instead, the idea should lay the foundation for a much bigger picture.

Before you start the journey towards turning your idea into a successful business, ask yourself these questions to tell if your idea is a true game changer.

Are you solving a problem no one else has solved, or solving it in an original way?

Are you solving a problem no one else has solved, or solving it in an original way?

In other words, are you making something that people want or need—and if so, why will they choose your product or service over anyone else’s? The ideas that don’t go anywhere are often the ones that don't solve a problem for anyone. Don’t be fooled into thinking that if an idea is “cool” enough, it will be a success. Even Instagram and YouTube solved problems, or satisfied a need for consumers that hadn’t been addressed the way these popular platforms have.

If people neither want it or need it, chances are your idea needs some refining.

Does your idea target a small niche market or does it have broad appeal?

Often the most successful ideas are designed to service a large number of people, whether they’re products, social or media platforms, or brick and mortar businesses. Even if you start out with a smaller target and grow it organically (Twitter went from a few users to millions practically overnight), the more people you can reach the easier it will be for you to find financial backing.

Will your idea get people talking?

Speaking of giant overnight growth spurts—another telltale sign that you’ve got a golden egg is how “buzz worthy” it is. Ideas go viral because the people who encounter them eagerly tell everyone they know about them. Investors are already looking for these kinds of ideas, keeping their ears to the ground for the sounds of chatter.

Are you ready to face rejection? Over and over again?

There is always a need for pioneers in any industry. But not every innovative idea has been considered a true game changer right out of the gate. Chester Carlson struck out several times before he was finally able to convince a small firm to invest in his photocopier (today’s Xerox Corp.). Alexander Graham Bell was told that his telephone invention was useless so many times that he finally went into business for himself. Facing rejection is a hard fact of any new business venture, and a truly innovative idea will make people nervous. It’s usually more costly to launch, takes more time to realise, and the risk of failure is greater than most tried & true business models.

Does it ask for more than it gives?

In any industry, a product or service that requires more from the consumer than it’s actually worth is bad news. Taking the current economic times and consumer mindset into account when you’re pitching your idea is essential. In a tough economy the tried-and-true is often considered to be the better direction. Franchise chains offer ready-made business plans, known start-up costs, and proven ideas. An idea that costs more to produce than it’s expected to return will bomb like a poorly directed action movie with an overblown budget.

At the end of the day, whether you stick to the relative safety of a proven business model or branch out with something revolutionary, addressing these questions can help you strengthen the impact of your idea.

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