Before we dive into this, let me say here that ideas are a dime a dozen, they are as cheap as they come. The difference really is in what you do with the idea that comes to you when it does. The moment an idea comes to you, the clock starts ticking and it’s only a matter of time before you walk up your street and see someone implementing the exact same idea. What a bummer! I’ll also have you know though, that if and when this kind of thing happens, it doesn’t mean its over, but of course that’s a subject for another day.
Once you conceive an idea, what do you do with it? How do you nurture and bring your winning business idea to life? What is the lifespan of an idea really? If the moment you conceived it, you filed it away and kept it in a safe place, how long will it be before it popped up again or became obsolete even?
What problem does your idea solve and for who? Where are these people and is their number significant enough to support this idea as a business? Do you need to expand, re-position, or re-define to make this more viable? These are just a few questions you need to ask to get started once you have this idea. You want to know that your idea is worth spending some time on.
You also want a top-level idea of the “What” and the “How”. You may not get complete clarity on the first try, but clarity helps you progress. It’s a journey; so don’t feel like you have betrayed your idea, if down the line you have tweaked the idea so much that it doesn’t quite look like what you started out with. Trust me, it happens to the best of entrepreneurs and it’s fine.
This is a subject of a lot of debate, there is the issue of idea theft and as such, some people keep their ideas to themselves and they never get the funding or needed support for their idea. Really though, how are you supposed to get help or validate if you don’t share?
One of my mentors in the tech space, Bola Akindele, told us as once at a mentoring session how owning patents saved his business many times. The options are there for you to protect your idea. So he said to us, if you are convinced that your idea is ground breaking and can be stolen, go ahead and patent it and don’t hesitate to sue when you have to.
Back to the benefits of sharing, when you share with the right people, you get instant feedback and can fine-tune your idea till it becomes the best version of itself. Make sure you listen to the critics too, don’t take it personal, they are instrumental to the success of your eventual launch.
This stage is one that many entrepreneurs skip. I have heard people say, why waste money on a pilot when you can just start building! If the idea is fail proof, good for you, but heaven help you if you sink hard earned millions into a project only to find you made a mistake that could have been avoided if you spent a couple of millions less to run a pilot or build an MVP.
Sometimes, you are so sure people will buy your product and yes maybe they will eventually, with a few tweaks here and there, but you can only find out what those tweaks are when you run a pilot. Well, alternatively, you can find out after you have sunk in all your money. Choose one.
According to Wikipedia, the minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development. If it’s an app for example, build one with basic features for starters, if it’s manufacturing on the other hand, produce a few samples first. You can consider outsourcing production of your samples before you invest heavily in Machinery, FIIRO (Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi) is one place to look at. There are also technology incubation centers across the country where you can start on a small scale before launching out.
This could have been merged with step three above, but there is a difference between building and selling. They are two whole different steps. This test stage is like your moment of truth!
So, your mum, sisters and brothers said they liked the product, great, now will they pay for it? Who else outside that circle can you pitch to and get a nod in terms of payment or investment?
Don’t feel dejected if you get a couple of “Nays”, test all the parameters involved. Could it be the price point? Is the message clear? Do you need to emphasize the benefits more? Is it the color, the size, the packaging? If it’s a service, maybe you need to review the mode of delivery, the process or the remodel the service altogether.
I have to be frank with you, not all ideas can fly, sometimes the time is not right, or idea is just not for a certain environment, if these are the vibes you get from your test run, face reality and move on or start afresh with a new idea. Remember I said at the beginning of this article that ideas are a dime a dozen.
Now that we have that bitter truth out of the way, we also need to know that negative feedback does not mean your idea is bad or cannot fly. It sometimes means, it need a few tweaks here and there to get to the desired destination. That’s where remodeling comes in, work with a focus group to fine-tune the idea till you are ready to go to market. Caveat Emptor!
You might have another process for your idea that worked, care to share? It would be interesting to read. Also, maybe you think there’s something on that list that isn’t quite workable, drop a line, let’s engage. I love healthy conversations.