1.1 | ASSESS THE VIABILITY OF AN IDEA
Coming up with a boundless supply of ideas is the greatest tool you have. But you need to make sure that each idea is workable and viable. Strengths need building upon, weaknesses need to be checked and improved upon and evidence needs to be uncovered to substantiate the idea. Your idea needs backing up.
Get insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your idea. Seek out best-seller lists, contact the Office of National Statistics, read financial papers, contact trade associations, subscribe to trade magazines and do your homework to uncover the size of the market your idea fits within. Find out about the demand for a product or service like yours. Seek out press stories about problems your idea solves or opportunities being created in your market.
Review competitors in the market. Go online. Look at failures and successes, how have other people implemented their ideas? What can you do differently? What can you do safer, faster, better and cheaper than anyone else out there? Who and where are your potential customers and target audience?
Assess the idea from all angles. Can you honestly implement the idea? Pad the idea out. What needs to be done to get it off the ground and make it happen? Is it still possible? Evaluate hard. If an idea is not researched properly before it is turned into a business then it is likely to end in failure.
Question everything. Then hunt down the answers. Give your idea merit.
WHAT MAKES AN IDEA VIABLE?
ORIGINALITY: Many entrepreneurs and inventors create ideas that have never been done before, either in the UK or globally. Great entrepreneurs change people's perception of what is possible by launching successful businesses based on a unique and exceptional idea. They have the imagination to create a truly innovative and groundbreaking business concept by challenging the status quo; challenging existing options and alternatives.
DIFFERENTIALITY: A great business idea doesn't have to be explicitly unique or original. An existing idea can be modified, changed and improved upon. Entrepreneurs are often the architects of change. There must be some differentiating factors within your business that reflect this change, so go against the grain. Challenge current available choices. Unravel a fresh take on an existing business idea. Find a better solution for your customers' problem.
GROWTH MARKETS: A strong idea within a growth market with low to medium risk is likely to appeal to investors and other financiers. Risks and vulnerabilities must be fully understood when entering a fast growth sector, including a firm grasp of what the competition are doing and a plan for how to exploit the growth in the market to your advantage. Areas of technology, IT outsourcing, childcare, online social communities, alternative therapies and life coaching have all seen high growth in recent years.
IMPORTED IDEAS: Think laterally. Import ideas from abroad and use your imagination to build on them. Obviously be aware of cross-cultural sensitivities because what works in one part of the world may not work in another. But could you put a different twist on it? Make a foreign idea your own.
SPECIALISTS: Can you become a specialist in one product area? I did just that when I set up Phones International Group in 1998. I'd worked in the sector and decided to go against the grain and focus solely on one manufacturer, so that my company would be recognised as a specialist in their products. I called this "single brand distribution". As a result, within 12 months we became the manufacturer's number one partner and the Phones International Group dream was on its way to becoming a reality. I then replicated the focus I applied with my single brand distribution concept with other manufacturers which enabled the business to grow faster than the competition, and be recognised as a partner that added real value.
FINDING A NICHE: Can you target a specific niche market with your idea that nobody else is focusing on? That's what I did with Phones International Group by focusing on the rail market place. I devoted all my energies to cracking that market and I also made a strategic acquisition. As a result I ended up with 75 per cent of the market place - simply because I took an existing idea and made it better by focusing on one area, instead of trying to be all things to all people.
GLOBAL POSSIBILITIES: Can the idea be replicated globally? Investigate international markets fully to understand competitive pressures, cultural differences and economic pressures. If entering global territories and assessing whether it is viable to do so, entrepreneurs need to get a grasp of market dynamics at a local level and adapt accordingly. A strong international appeal is increasingly important to investors, and is something which separates a good idea from an outstanding one.
INTUITION: Does it feel right? If so, you will make decisions based on a strong purpose and vision - a critical differentiating factor between companies that grow fast and those that don't. Heed your intuition and respect your gut feeling. Intuition is an entrepreneurs own in-built radar system.
My 10 Golden Rules consist of the critical success factors required for entrepreneurial brilliance. When creating an idea, deciding on its viability and pitching an idea to investors, entrepreneurs need to use four of these rules in tandem: INTUITION and PERSEVERANCE, COMMITMENT and CONFIDENCE