Most entrepreneurial types have a million business ideas, and under pressure, they could come up with a million and one. The trick to a successful startup is picking the right one for the time, resources, and market available when you are ready to launch. Very few businesses fail because the idea is not viable, but a great many opportunities are missed because the entrepreneur doesn’t take the time to evaluate the best idea to pursue given the circumstances.
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Every startup requires time, money and hard work to succeed, but the road is much smoother if there is a sufficient, reachable market for your product. Every business idea should go through a cursory analysis before any significant resources are spent. Rudimentary pros and cons list can go a long way in eliminating bad business ideas and can give you a head start in developing the good ones.
The pros and cons of any new business idea should include, at a minimum, the following areas:
How much do you know about the actual operations of your business idea? How much effort is required to produce a single unit of your product? Do you have the skills to produce it yourself or will you partner up, hire experienced employees, or outsource the skills that you lack?
Is there a sufficient market to support your business idea? That is, are there enough people or businesses that will benefit from your product that marketing can be fairly broad? Or will you have to seek and find a very limited number of opportunities to sell? Is your idea a positive innovation on something people already use or will you have to introduce an entirely new concept to your market? Does your idea provide a greater benefit to your customers than the competition’s products? Will that increased benefit be enough to draw your own market share? How will your product be distributed initially? Down the road?
How crowded is the industry you are entering? Are there a lot of big guns you will be competing with? How will you fit into the marketplace? Will you compete on quality, benefits, price or some other factor? And, will the market respond to those differences? Remember that competing on price is the most difficult unless you have concocted an innovative way to produce for far less than anyone else. Where is the industry headed? Will your idea expand to meet the needs of an ever-changing marketplace?
What do you estimate your startup will cost? Do you have access to enough cash to launch it on your own? Assume, worst-case, that finding outside funding will be impossible…is there a way to modify your idea to make it affordable? Do you have the time to devote to your startup? Can you afford to work for a few months without significant income? How much of your personal resources are you willing to risk?
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Objectively consider whether the business idea will hold your attention and interest over time. If you are motivated purely by profit but have no interest in the product itself, it will be difficult to stay motivated through the dark days of your startup…and there will be dark days. You don’t necessarily have to love your business idea to succeed, but you need to find satisfaction in the day-to-day work. Somebody made millions from producing twist ties…it is doubtful that they adored the idea of twist ties before launching the business. More likely, they enjoyed the manufacturing and production industry in general and saw a need for that particular item.
Write down every relevant factor you can think of related to your business idea and list out the pros and cons of each. Be as objective as possible about each aspect of Talk to people about your idea and accept their input. Never be offended by negative responses, but try to dig for information that might improve on your original idea. Most of the time solid planning results in a far different venture than initially considered — this is a good sign. The more you learn, the more you can refine your idea into one that is bound for success.
If you have multiple business ideas, list the pros and cons for each of them, then compare the outcomes. Begin your entrepreneurial career with the easiest option; you can always launch the other ideas later. In fact, a little experience in starting any size and type of business will probably reduce the cons of your other ideas by the time you get around to launching them.
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