Why Your Startup Idea Is Not as Good as You Think
A lot of people think that a great idea is the one and only key to cashing in with a successful startup. The sad truth is that this kind of thinking is what frequently sinks a startup. A good idea is important, but definitely not the first priority. Check out our article and find out what makes a startup flourish.
Every new startup begins with an idea. For some reason, people tend to think that an idea that appeared in their mind between bites at lunch is absolutely breathtaking, unique, and the only true key to success.
But there is something much bigger than just a thought.
Why the idea is not everything?
To some extent, people never grow up. Even an experienced and respected specialist in their field has something innocent and naive still living within their mind. Sometimes this “childishness” can be seen in people’s attitude towards ideas. Just as children are afraid to share their toys because someone might take it, adults are afraid to share their ideas with others. The explanation usually sounds something like this:
“I’ve got a one-of-a-kind idea that will definitely bring me billions of dollars. If I share this idea with my coworkers, they will steal it, implement it before me and take all my money. No way! Never!”
This happens because most people think like this:
But that’s totally wrong.
An idea by itself, without any solid base, has no value. There are nearly eight billion people living in this world, and every one of them has their own ideas, a lot more than one. People can come to absolutely the same ideas without even knowing each other (great minds think alike, don’t they?). So the uniqueness of an idea is a questionable concept.
What is success then?
As we mentioned before, success implies much more than just a good idea. In reality, the formula looks like this:
The main part of this sum is validation, more specifically, market validation. According to Eric Ries and his book The Lean Startup, the only thing that can truly validate your idea is the market itself. Even the most experienced developer or business-analyst can never be 100 percent sure about an idea’s profitability.
For example, you want to build a CRM app for hair salons. It doesn’t matter how you came up with this idea. You might be a hairdresser yourself and would like to have a tool like that. Maybe your hairdresser friend is always moaning about their difficulties managing customers. Or you were having your hair cut one day when suddenly this thought flashed in your mind. The only thing that matters is that you are absolutely convinced it is brilliant! Making a CRM app is fast, there are a lot of hairdressers in the world, and if you sell your product to at least two or three hundred hair salons, you can easily retire at 30! Millions of imaginary dollars are already burning in your pocket and all you have to do is decide the color of your future private jet, right?
But the market has its own rules and its own questions. The market will ask you:
- Does a mid-level salon have the budget to implement CRM and train its staff to use it?
- Is it possible to create one workflow template that applies to the whole variety of salons?
- How to account for the many types and styles of haircuts?
- What if it’s a pet salon?
- Each salon offers its own set of additional services. How to include them?
- How to account for salon regulations in different states?
- How about in different countries?
- What about taxes? How to include everything in one single pattern, when tax rates and systems differ from city to city, not to mention states and countries?
- What if a client wants to cancel a visit? What if they don’t show up? How to implement that?
- How will you monetize this CRM? Subscription or one-time payment?
- How many categories will describe a client (name, phone number, type of haircut or more)?
- Do hairdressers even need software like that, or are they doing just fine with their existing customer management systems?
- Do they even use computers in their work at all?
The deeper you get into the idea, the more questions arise and the more frustrated you become. How do you take everything into account and create a truly successful startup?
What is the right way?
You don’t need to rush into doubting your startup idea. The project you’re thinking of could be a big success. You just need to do things the right way.
WRONG: You have a brilliant idea about a CRM for hair salons. You’re absolutely sure your idea is so awesome that every hair salon in the world will be rushing to buy it. You build your project and suddenly discover that no one needs it.
RIGHT: You have an idea of a CRM for hair salons. You create a landing page with some prototype screens and a call to action like “Give us your email and be the first to get a copy.” You see the feedback from your target audience and adjust your project accordingly.
WRONG: You’ve got a million dollars and an amazing idea for your future app. You spend all your money on that one project and it all disappears because the market doesn’t need your app.
RIGHT: You’ve got a million dollars. You split the sum into ten parts of $100,000 each and spend it on ten different projects. One of them finds its audience and becomes a success.
WRONG: You’ve got six months. You spend the entire time building one complete project that gets absolutely no recognition.
RIGHT: You’ve got six months. You split the time and spend one month validating six different projects. One idea turns out to be successful, and you finish development of the full app.
WRONG: You want to create a chat. You build a fully custom chat from scratch. It takes a very long time, but looks just the way you want. You spend weeks figuring out just the button design. You waste both time and money.
RIGHT: You want to create a chat. You build it from ready solutions that cover 80% of the functionality you want and save your resources on more important tasks like testing or analyzing user feedback.
One of the best ways to understand if your idea is valuable is a proof of concept (PoC) — a basic project implementation that verifies the viability of a business idea. One of our clients, an international insurance company, chose that way for their startup — a customer service voice bot. The PoC helped the company understand the necessity of such a voice assistant, and now we’re working together with them to finish developing a full multifunctional project.
Wrapping it up
As Eric Ries says, a startup is not just a type of business. A startup is a notion, a type of project with uncertain outcomes.
If a corporation tests a new product – it’s a startup. If someone starts a new and unusual kind of company – it’s a startup. If you begin something new without any idea how it will turn out in the end – that’s a startup as well.
To some extent, our life is a startup.
So be flexible. Keep looking. Keep trying. And don’t be afraid to share ideas – that’s the only way we can make the world a better place to live.
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