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So You Have a Brilliant Idea. What’s Next.

So You Have a Brilliant Idea. What’s Next.

By Tim Berry, Guest Blogger
Published: February 23, 2017

So you have a brilliant business idea that will be very successful. Now what?

Bad news: You don’t actually own that idea. You you can’t sell it. It has no value as just an idea.

Good news: You can build a business with it. If there’s really nothing like it out there, then you might still be the first. All it takes is work, time, and – probably – money.

Here’s how to stop patting yourself on the back and get to work.

1. Gather a team

First ask yourself whether you can just do it, by yourself, without needing anything but your own time, effort, and money. That happens a lot. It doesn’t get as much free press as the big entrepreneurial successes, but it happens every time a consultant, bookkeeper, graphic designer, or freelance writer gets started on his or her own. If you can do that yourself, without help, then I applaud you. Go for it. Forget investors; just do it. You don’t need them.

If you can’t do it alone, then you need a team. Your next step in that case is to gather some people to join you. Look for people different from you, with skills and experience you need, but don’t have.  If you can’t do that, for whatever reason, then give up your idea. It’s not going to happen under your watch. Other people have solved that problem, millions of times. 

If you can’t afford to pay people to join you, you’re not alone. That’s another common problem that millions of others have solved. You and your idea have to convince other people to join you, work with you, risking their time to participate in the building of something they believe in. You and they do the work for free to invest in your shared future.

And if you can’t pay people and can’t get them to work for free, but you still need people, then get a clue. Your idea has a fatal flaw. Brilliant or not, you can’t execute. Focus it down to something you can actually do, or give up. You’re in good company. Most ideas seem brilliant until they hit execution.

2. Develop a lean plan

Don’t do a big formal business plan. Just do a lean business plan. Define strategy, tactics, milestones, metrics, and important assumptions. Forecast sales, spending, and cash flow.  Do it as a team effort. Don’t sweat the text, keep it to lists and tables. And keep it short so you can review it and revise it every month or so.

3. Execute. Get traction. Prove it.

Your plan includes your early milestones. Get going. Execute that plan. Your team goes through early milestones such as product prototypes, design, websites, and so forth. Maybe you get on one of those sites that lets you offer future product in return for early sales.

Get traction. Prove that your idea is an opportunity. How you do it depends on your specific case. In the best cases, you can convert early sales to growth, getting to critical mass, becoming a going business.

4. Seek investment if and only if…

Never go for angel investment or venture capital unless you really need it. If you can get your business going based on early sales, and hard work, forget about investment. Do it yourself, without spending other people’s money, and you own it yourself.

If you do need investment, let it be because you have an opportunity you can’t reach without spending other people’s money. Let it be because that deficit spending will create a successful business in the future. Furthermore, don’t go for investment if you’re not going to get it. Only a few businesses are good investments. It has to be easy to scale up to high volume, with a market that will want high volume. It has to be defensible against imitators, because of some proprietary technology, or so-called secret sauce. And it has to have a credible team, with previous startup experience.

If that’s not your idea, join the club. Investable businesses are the exception, not the rule. So just get to work, and do it yourself. You’ll have lots of company.

 

About the Author:

Tim Berry
Tim Berry

Guest Blogger

Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, on twitter as Timberry, blogging at timberry.bplans.com. His collected posts are at blog.timberry.com. Stanford MBA. Married 46 years, father of 5. Author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including his latest, 'Lean Business Planning,' 2015, Motivational Press. Contents of that book are available for web browsing free at leanplan.com .