Part 18: Falling in Love….. with a Business Idea

Entrepreneurs are generally passionate people. Once they get hooked onto something they believe in they will go somewhat blindly and fervently towards that dream regardless of whether it sounds plausible or not. This is especially when they start falling in love with an idea.

I often tell my students never to fall in love with their ideas but rather that they should fall in love with the intended customers, the target market and who they want to serve. Having said that I still admire the steadfastness of some of these passionately driven people when they can’t stop talking about that great idea of theirs. They would keep on pounding on that “next great thing”, only to have people around them smile to themselves thinking “they must have gone nuts to think this would work”. In Asia you might not get anyone who will be honest enough to express their skepticism and doubts, even friends. They might just acknowledge the idea and might even say it sounds great (even when is it a pretty silly one). In some cases their enthusiasm is fueled by others around them who are just merely diplomatic and don’t want to kill that energy.

Having said that isn’t true to say that some of the so called silliest ideas become great products or services like, trying to deliver a parcel any where in the States by the next morning( Federal Express) or trying to build a phone with only one button (Iphone) or selling silly yellow paper with some not-so-sticky glue on it (yellow pads).

So what about Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Fred Smith who when they first started pursuing their ‘silly’ dreams of theirs, probably faced the same reactions? They were probably flooded with skepticism, disbelief, sniggering and even ridicule. But they came through. So how would you draw a line between a simply crazy idea and one which become the Facebook , the Apple and the Federal Express of tomorrow?

Yet we also know that while they are those who against all odds make it big with ideas nobody believed in, there are also thousands who never made it and their idea just got buried in the Mountain of Dead Ideas. When do we put that would-be-great entrepreneur on his feet and wake him up and when do you encourage him and support him? I could not really tell … and some times I have work hard to hold my self back and suppress my own biasness and tendency to become discouraging when the idea they share with me seems incredulous.

At best I would ask a series of questions to help validate that idea including the following:

1.    What problems are you or your product or service solving and for who?

2.    What exactly is the value you provide with your product or service?

3.    Why would some one want to pay for your product or services?

4.    Why do you want to do this business?

5.    Who exactly would you be marketing your product or service to?

6.    Is some one else doing this? And if not why do you think no one is?

7.    What make you different from someone else out there providing something similar?

8.    What kind of resources do you need to get this off the ground and do you have any ideas where to get them?

9.    What makes you the right person to do this?

10.    What has changed out there that make this idea works now and not before?

For the person with a Business Idea: Here are some of my suggestions if you want to know if the idea you have is worth putting all your money in it and quit your job for:

1.    Find 5 persons who are not related to you in any ways to be willing to pay you money for your product or services, or

2.    Find at least one person who will be willing to put money into your venture and would be ready to sign a check for you to buy a piece of your intended business, or

3.    Try convincing at least two persons who would be willing to quit their job to join you in your business.

If you can’t get any of the things above done it still does not mean that your idea is not do-able.  But if you do get one of that done it sure add fuel to that fire within you.


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