There’s one fundamental difference between an experienced business owner and an aspiring entrepreneur.
An experienced business owner knows the value of an idea.
They know an idea is worth… nothing. Not a dime. Even a good idea.
That’s because ideas alone are easy. You probably have at least one every time you take a shower. The hot water goes on, you close your eyes, and immediately you have a vision of a product that will make you millions.
It happens to all of us, all the time.
But how many of those ideas have you built? How many of the ideas that have appeared to you in a flash while you were soaping up have become real products that you created and marketed? None, right?
That’s probably because none of those ideas came with a detailed production and marketing plan you could follow step-by-step. They didn’t come with a skilled team already in place. And they certainly didn’t come with funding.
Ideas are easy. Implementation—that’s hard.
That’s why you have to choose your business ideas carefully. You can have a new idea every day but turning that idea into a business takes time, effort, energy and money. It might be a year or two before you really know whether that flash of inspiration really is a million-dollar spark or just the light bouncing off a soap bubble.
You have to learn to filter out the genuinely winning ideas from the concepts that will break apart at the first sign of pressure.
There are lots of different ways to do that. You can conduct market research to see how similar products or services are being received. You can bring together focus groups and ask people whether they’d buy what you want to make. You can even use crowdfunding sites to see whether people like your idea so much that they’re willing to pay for it in advance.
All of those methods have value. Some of them will be essential. (You can’t build a product without doing at least some market research.) But none of them is perfect.
Market research only tells you how similar products to your idea have performed. It won’t tell you how your idea will perform. Focus groups aren’t made of real customers holding their real, earned dollar bills, and people never know what they want until it’s right in front of them. Even crowdfunded projects that built an audience and raised funds haven’t always generated a product. Some have raised millions on the back of an idea that turned out to be impossible to build.
A wild idea? Good
There’s a better way to measure the potential in an idea.
You measure its wildness. Not just how wild the idea is, but how wild you feel about it.
The more enthusiasm you feel for an idea, the greater the likelihood that other people will feel the same way. Not all of them will feel as crazy about it as you but some will, and plenty of others will feel just enough enthusiasm to pay for it.
That’s not guaranteed, of course. When it comes to picking ideas, there are no guarantees for commercial success. But the depth of your enthusiasm is a reasonably good proxy for the market value of an idea.
And even if it isn’t, even if you’re nuts about a concept, spend a couple of years developing it, and find that it doesn’t fly, you’ll still have achieved something awesome.
You’ll have had fun.
You’ll have spent two years building a business that made you proud and that you enjoyed building.
That’s another sign of an experienced business owner. They understand that they can’t predict what will happen at the end of the production process. They know they can’t control what their customers do when the product is ready. But they do know that they can control what they do—and they can control whether they’re happy as they build their business.
As you’re reviewing the ideas you dream up in the shower, don’t pick the first one you thought of. Pick the last one you’re still thinking of.
About Joel Comm
As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.
Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.