I have an idea! What to do next?

Things are trundling along quite nicely as the initial machinations continue in building up Rahim Empire. Unfortunately we’re not quite at the stage where I can share openly my plans with my dear readers. Hopefully by the end of the month things will be a bit clearer! But one aspect I’ve been dealing with and confronting is what the hell to do next if you think you have an idea? Now the first temptation is to start jumping up and down and dreaming of how your business is gonna become a unicorn and you’ll be a billionaire in 2 years.

But let’s come down from cloud 9, take a step back and discuss reality. You have an idea, great. So what! We all have ideas, but alas most of them are either rubbish or not viable for many reasons. So the idea must spur the thought ‘I have a solution to a problem that exists’. Now this is a much more interesting statement, right?

The problem

How do you know you’ve identified a problem? You will likely need to do some consumer research. Now one important detail, when speaking/interviewing people don’t talk about a solution. Keep to understanding and researching the problem you are trying to solve. This may mean the whole conversation meanders off topic, but that’s ok. The emotion and reaction is giving you valuable insight into a potential customer. Heck you may discover the problem doesn’t even exist or that a solution already exists; it may even lead to identifying a completely different problem statement. Oh and interviewing just your mum isn’t going to fly. Interview as many people as possible. If you’ve identified a smaller homogenous group who really, really have a dire need, then they’re more likely to buy your product. You can diversify your clientele once you pick up momentum.        

My name is Bob – I’m 35 years old, voting for Trump and enjoy watching football

The next stage is to build up personas of your customers. Be specific. The header starts to generate a picture of a person right? Build up two or three different ones of potential customers. Understand the stuff they buy, hobbies, purchasing habits etc. This will lead you to really understanding your customer base. As mentioned before, we’re only looking for a couple of specific types of people to initially sell to. For me this is a very important point. Speaking with people, the idea of casting a net wide to try and capture more audience is quite prevalent. But try and stick with doing good research upfront and identifying the correct customer willing to buy. It’s much easier to grow out once you have traction.

The next steps

After that we can start thinking of some harder metrics such as the prices people are willing to pay and how you think your sales will look in 5 years time. Also remember, all this information you’ve gathered is all rather useful data, so store it sensibly and in a way you can search and validate later hypothesis.

Finally we end up with a set of assumptions. I’m calling these your major assumptions. These things will make or break your idea. I’ll wrap it up here because this is as far as I’ve got in understanding the issue of the idea. I don’t feel enough experience has been gained (yet) to write about the next step. Though don’t worry folks I am well on the case! But for those interested you would next create a minimum viable product and test the major assumptions out; then revise and iterate. We start to shift and become product focussed.

Thus far I’ve not differentiated between software/internet based products or physical/hardware products. I think the above is applicable to both. You don’t need a great sounding idea to make loads of money. Just a good understanding of the problem. And remember boys and girls try and remain objective, it’s all too easy to get emotional and protective of your idea (I’m also guilty of it).

J

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