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How To Really Know if Your Idea is Good or Bad

Good or Bad Idea?

You’ve just come up with what you think is an amazing idea. A new business that will change the world. A new business that will make you lots of money! You quickly go out and share your idea with your friends and family and they confirm how good the idea is. Everything looks great! The world is perfect.

Then you set off to build your idea. You spend hours, days, weeks, months, maybe even years building it. Then you release it. Nothing happens. The streaming hordes of customers you expected don’t materialize. You can’t get any sales other than that first sale from you mom or dad, but that’s about it. Why? What happened? Everyone confirmed it was a great idea when you shared it with them…

The unfortunate reality is that almost all the time your friends and family will confirm your idea is good, even when it’s not. Firstly most people don’t want to rain down on your excitement. And secondly most of us have learned that delivering bad news is not fun, especially when it’s really not necessary.

So what I suggest, instead of JUST asking your friends and family if your idea is good, ask them if they would also purchase it.

Again, same as before, most will say they would. That’s good! That’s one step further. But don’t stop there. Many people will say yes but would never actually purchase it.

The next step is to confirm your idea by asking if they will purchase it now!! You’ll be surprised at how quickly things change once you ask them to commit real hard earned dollars (excluding your parents of course). Basically as soon as you ask someone to pay money instead of just giving positive wishes, you get their real views on whether or not you’ll succeed.

If you can’t get anyone to commit money to your idea then it’s very likely not a good idea. Maybe it’s too specific and you don’t have like minded individuals, but if that’s the case should you be pushing so far out of your core competencies in the first place. For example, if you don’t know anyone or anything about the kennel business, then should you really start a kennel business?

Getting back to the topic at hand, the only real and sure fire way to tell if an idea is a good idea or not is to ask people to pay for it. Not just if they would pay for it, but to actually ask them to pay for it. Your results will tell you just how good your idea really is!

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  •     Scott Kane
    · November 4th, 2010  · 11:54 am  · Permalink

    Great post Steph. Nice and succinct. As for the message – “been there, done that but could never afford the tee-shirt” 😉

  •     Steph
    · November 8th, 2010  · 2:51 pm  · Permalink


  •     Boots
    · November 8th, 2010  · 10:53 pm  · Permalink

    I tend to agree, better to get the feedback quickly. I am not sure that it is a requirement to know people already in the business, and even if you know a few and they don’t love the idea, it doesn’t mean the idea is bad. One thing I have been drawn to lately is the idea of just putting up a landing page asking for name and email, then marketing that landing page and seeing if it has any traction. In this way, you get something less than an actual buy, but it is completely unbiased and gives you leads. If you have enough leads, then develop!

  •     Casey Strouse
    · July 24th, 2011  · 4:17 am  · Permalink

    I try to ask people in the industry that I deeply respect and that will give it to me straight even if my idea sucks. I’d rather have my feelings hurt than spin my wheels launching a poorly thought-out or half-baked idea. Thanks again Steph!

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