I have an idea ... Now What?

ggallucciggallucci Posts: 4subscriber Member
edited January 2008 in Business Planning
First time posting long time reader.
 
I have had a number of ideas that I though about starting a business around. I continually have difficulty getting knowledgeable feedback on my ideas and if they are viable. Does any one have suggestions as to the best way to research an idea and its validity?
 
Thanks
Greg

Comments

  • GrillCharmerGrillCharmer Posts: 7subscriber
    Hello Greg!  Personally I found when going through the steps of completing (or trying to complete) my business plan I was forced to seek out those very answers.  This is just the format I used, but the SCORE template asks those questions and forces you to answer them to complete the template.  That`s where I found much of my validation.  I also did primary research with a questionair and prototypes.  Is your proposed business more of a service or product? 
  • crazydiamondcrazydiamond Posts: 1subscriber
    Well Greg, it sorta depends (helpful, right?)! I know that giving details on the area of product you are looking at is not super comfortable, but it is difficult to give feedback without it. So the following is pretty general.
    We do a lot of this stage of development - have an idea, kick it around, make some guesses, and speculate about it some more. I don`t know how far advanced your ideas are in development, but this is typically what we do. Actually, this is perhaps the most fun part of new ventures.
    The brainstorm process basically revolves around  key words or concepts, and we use a white board to keep track of stuff. At the earliest stages, we use the no negatives approach - often relationships between ideas come after something everyone really thought was absurd was written down.
    After a time, we erase the links and words that don`t make sense, and go away. Usually it is to get some more information.
    That information, in the early stages comes from talking to people - potential end users, people involved in the distribution and if possible production of the product or service. The objective is  partly to get an understanding of the current market solutions, but also the sense of the strength of the product/industry.What we really need is the emotional reaction and a grasp of the value that is represented in the product/service. Then we go back to the whiteboard. We try to have several different perspectives sitting in - users, production, designers, prototypers. What we do not include at this stage is bean counters, and we also try to restrict sales side.
    This series of alternating brainstorm/research continues until the basic picture on the board remains reasonably consistent.
    Then the skull sweat sets in. We start with two paths - one team handles secondary research, the other starts modelling (design prototype, production processes, marketing strategy, and business plan models or simulation).
    This part of idea development tends to reveal constraints - costs, market penetration, design limitations, competition barriers. And this kicks off a new round of brainstorming to overcome those constraints. It is here that we find we get a lot of innovative components to the potential operation.
    Eventually, this will result in a fairly clear set of plans - strategy, market, tactical, roll-out. We also have at this point, a full business plan model - still a lot of assumptions, but the structure is there to play what-ifs and test ideas. The last people we get involved are the bean counters, tax and finance side.
    We use a stage-gate approach to a lot of our projects. First stage is typically kept tight -  ten hours to demonstrate potential. Second stage for us tends to be 2 weeks and $5,000 max. Third stage, when we start to do skull sweat is 4 weeks and $10,000. Fourth stage is 2 months and $25,000. The dollar amounts are upper caps - a lot of projects get much less, depends on the scope of the potential. Only about 20% of our ideas over the past 4 years got to stage 2, 12% went to stage 3, and 3% went to stage 4. We`ve done ok. 70% of our stage 4s were launched.
    You can do this alone, but it is harder - additional perspectives generate more avenues to explore, and keep timelines tight. If you don`t have those kinds of resources, try to find a group of like minded people (interested in new product development and new venture development). Or start a group. Thats what we did in the beginning.
    You may find that your group develops its own special strengths - secondary research, prototyping, feasibility modelling, brainstorming, bootstrapping. This depends on what the people bring to the table. We found that we developed some of our own tools that we used over and over again (and since we are real carefully with money, we refused to buy tools). For instance, look into QFD (quality functional deployment). We ran into it while doing prototyping of new products for industrial applications, where there were no substantially similar products in the market. It let us establish the `voice of the customer` early in stage 2, when there was no customer to speak. Great tool.
    The SCORE approach is helpful, but really cannot provide what you need - once you have established feasiblity, they can be more helpful, but frankly, by then, you probably won`t need much from them. They are pretty good as an experienced review process, though - fresh eyes and so on. The tools they offer tend to be not so helpful when developing innovative ideas for production or for marketing, and unfortunately, they are not closed models, so stuff doesn`t tie together the way we like.
    Have fun, and good luck
    Mike
  • RicWillmotRicWillmot Posts: 14subscriber
    Craig`s approach makes sense; perfect sense.
     
    My only caveat to you would be is that if you ask enough people, someone will think it is their job to tell you it won`t work!
     
    Rgds,
    Ric
  • GrillCharmerGrillCharmer Posts: 7subscriber
    DoorMat, here is the link

    www.score.org

    You can find a location near you
     
    Here is the template

    http://www.score.org/template_gallery.html
  • robertjrobertj Tampa Bay, FloridaPosts: 0subscriber Member

    First time posting long time reader. I have had a number of ideas that I though about starting a business around. I continually have difficulty getting knowledgeable feedback on my ideas and if they are viable. Does any one have suggestions as to the best way to research an idea and its validity?  ThanksGreg
     Greg, Even though I help people develop their business plans as part of my business, what I tell them is -don`t try to create a 50 page document and answer every question at once. I would suggest yo begin by creating a short "problem statement" - that clearly describes the "problem" your idea will solve. Once you have that, then see if you can find people who have the "problem" and determine if they "want" a solution. Let me add that I do suggest having a full business plan (which means you answered "all" the questions) before you launch the business and invest in it.robertj1/11/2008 2:20 PM
  • cdbartworkcdbartwork Posts: 11subscriber
    Craig:
     
    One someone really do this, isn`t there a fear that your idea(s) could be pirated? I would like to get some unbiased input into an idea I have floating around but there is that fear factor.
     
    Colleen
  • cdbartworkcdbartwork Posts: 11subscriber

    This worry about an idea being stolen is usually overrated. There are a number of reasons involved, perhaps the most important being that if you don`t tell anyone your idea, then you usually never get it into production.
    Very few people (pretty much none) are so self-sufficient that they can get an idea from conception to production totally, 100% on their own. Yes, I know that the contextual meaning is to have your idea protected first, then talk about it, but what if it`s a poor idea? How do you do market research without even talking about the idea?
    Additionally, most people have plenty of their own ideas, and if they really are doing something, have little interest in stealing your own idea.
    There are millions of ideas in the world, few of which ever come to fruition. The main reason for that lack of application is that people are afraid to even talk about their diea.
    Craig:
     
    Well put, sometimes I just need to hear someone say this.  You are right that there are a million ideas out there and never move forward because people won`t talk about their ideas. I will definitely put my idea out there once I have it framed well.
     
    I hope I did this quote properly....
     
    Colleen
  • ggallucciggallucci Posts: 4subscriber Member
    Thanks for all the advice.
     
    I am going to speak with my local SCORE chapter and see if I could find someone that has expierence researching and developing a product. I will certainly be back here for more.
     
    Thanks again
    Greg
     
     
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