Got a stellar business idea?
Time to party, right?
Not necessarily. Here's why:
Business ideas are a lot like scientific hypotheses. They need proving through tests. The proving process can and should start before you start investing time, energy and resources to bring an idea to fruition.
You can evaluate your idea by going to Entrepreneur.com and running through the checklist found here. The checklist is designed to help you evaluate your idea. Hopefully after you've completed the checklist, you'll have a more realistic outlook as to the prospects of your idea. The balance of this article will highlight two steps from that checklist. If you're looking for help with a business you've already started, check here for complete list of Entrepreneur.com checklists.
The third step (or question really) of the checklist reads, "Is your idea an original, new concept, or is it a new combination or adaptation?" Combinations and adaptations are just as legitimate as original concepts. In fact, it's far more likely that you do not have a completely unique idea. Knowing the relative originality is important because you need to know what your idea offers. For example, if somebody is already making ice cream by flash freezing cream with liquid nitrogen, what does your nitro ice cream have to offer? Customizable flavors? Interesting molds? Unlimited toppings? Knowing how your idea compares to others will give you an awareness of how to set your idea apart.
The second to last step reads, "Does your idea fill a real need, or does the need have to be created through promotional and advertising efforts?" This is another vital question to ask because the answer will help you determine how to approach advertising.
For example, if you have an idea for a new bbq restaurant, then you know that your idea is fulfilling a basic human need: the need for food. Granted, people don't need to eat at your particular restaurant, so you need to convince them that eating there is a better idea than anything else they planned to fulfill their need for feed. But let's say your idea involves new technology, you may need to rely a lot more on a well-planned marketing scheme to create the need for the new technology.
Whatever your idea, use those steps of the checklist which seem most helpful to you to evaluate your business idea. You want to be realistic as you test your idea, but don't be afraid to trust your instincts. Do what makes sense in your heart and mind.