The creative mind of the serial entrepreneur can be his worst asset. Your mind is always identifying business opportunities, gaps in the market, potentially profitable ideas. This is good but can turn into your achilles heel when the sheer number of good ideas start to overwhelm you. You need to be brutal with your ideas and only pursue the ones you will have the time to execute on.
In this post, I will expand on a list of actions you can take or questions you need to answer before you decide to either pursue an idea or throw it in the bin.
This list is attributed to Chris Brogan, author of Trust Agents. He answered this question in the Third Tribe forums and I found the idea very relevant to serial entrepreneurs so I decided to expand upon that.
Who is the BUYER for this idea?
This is the first question to ask yourself before you embark on any project. If nobody is ready to buy your product or service, there is simply no reason to start exploring the idea (unless of course, you are working for a non-profit organisation).
Do I have ACCESS to the buyer?
For the serial entrepreneur that wants to start an online business, you need to be able to get access to your buyer. Where do they hang out? What forums do they participate in? Are they active on twitter or on facebook? Are they actively searching for your solution?. In the social media age, generating a relationship with your buyer is very important. Participate or hang out where your buyers hang out, answer their questions so when they are looking for a solution to their problem, they will come looking for you. You need to establish these hang-out spots in advance and find out how easy it is to access (Tip: Paid spots generally have more quality buyers than free spots)
Can I create the product/service for this idea?
Is it possible to create solution for the idea you have? Decide on what format it will take, will it be a software product, an information product (eBook, video course)? Think of features you will include in your first version, the minimum viable product.
Do I need help to do it, or can I go it alone?
After deciding on what form your product will take you need to decide if you will go it alone or you will need to get help. This can be in form of a partnership or outsourcing model. You
are always passionate about your ideas and sometimes you tend to take on too much responsibilities because it is your baby and love to see it grow. The problem is sometimes, taking on too many of these responsibilities will cripple you in the long term.
How many hours of my day will this idea take up?
Find out how much of your time it will take up. Do you have enough bandwidth to support this idea now? If you don’t it, is better to drop it now. The sure way of having your idea end up in the cemetery of half-finished ideas is to take on too many projects that you don’t have time for.
How soon before I can know if the idea is profitable or not?
Some ideas can be profitable right out of the gate, but some can take years to see returns. Between these two extremes, where does your product/service fall in ? Find out if you are ready to put in the hours necessary until you can start seeing some profits coming from the execution of the idea.
Is the idea expensive to try out?
How much money do you have to sink into the testing of the idea, hiring someone to develop an initial iteration, setting up the website design etc.
For online products, like an eBook or information product, all you need to put in is sweat equity as Gary V puts it. So you might say it will not cost me any money. Your time costs money, and it is worth a lot more than you think. Also factor in the time out takes to develop the idea into the expenses.
What’s a good way to pilot the idea?
Are you going to bring in joint venture partners? Will you partner with market leaders in your field? Who will be your early adopters and how easy will you make it for them to spread your idea virus.
How much do I stand to make from this idea?
Think of a price point you will want to sell your product/service for. Determine the number of customers you will need to sell to make it worthwhile. Then ask yourself, are these numbers feasible?
Is the execution of this idea something I want to do with my time?
This is one of the most important questions you will have to ask yourself. It takes time and effort to execute on an idea and you will most likely face challenges and failures along the way. If you are not passionate about what you are doing, you will not be able to see it through the trying times. Your idea will never see the light of day, period.
So those are the questions that need to be on your checklist. When a new idea comes up, run quickly through the check list and use the answers to subjectively decide if you will execute on the idea. Beware of bright and shiny objects that are there simply to distract you and focus on the intrinsically profitable ideas that will make you money and add value to your client.
What other questions do you ask yourself before you decide to execute on an idea? Please let me know in the comments.