Lesson 1: Ideation

What You’ll Learn: A business is only as good as its ideas. In this section, you’ll learn how to harness the power of ideation, leading you through a series of useful tools and techniques to increase your chances of success by looking at your own potential and finding those powerful nuggets that will quickly rise to the top.

Ideation (continued)

Bringing Focus

At this point, some entrepreneurs are tempted to invest time and money to create the trappings of a business – setting up a business structure, picking a name, torturing over a logo and corporate colors and coming up with an impressive job title.

This is all “busyness,” not business. There is plenty of time for this down the road and we have an entire Small Business Startup Playbook that covers all the machinations of setting up and operating a business in Washington State.

Right now, you need to test your idea with real customers, meet your competitors face-to-face, perfect your business model, and validate your idea outside of your circle of friends and family who, while well meaning, may not tell you the absolute truth.

Is this solving a real issue for potential customers? Is the problem big enough or its duration long enough to create a profitable business that offers a solution? Would people be willing to pay for the product or service at a level that would let your business idea be profitable in a reasonable amount of time?

We’ll get even deeper into the weeds as we work on a Business Canvas in our next lesson and companion workbook, which offers you a different way to think about your business. Many of the things you’ve been doing up to now will be useful in the Canvas, so don’t think you’ve been wasting your time in the Ideation Stage.

The goal at this point in the process is to whittle down the ideas from three to one. The more you know about your prospective customers, the more you know about their spending habits, the places they spend their money, their pain points, etc., the more you will be able to make informed decisions about your idea and how to turn it into a successful business.

If you have competitors, experience their product, service and establishment first hand to identify their strengths and find their weaknesses. Attend trade shows that are aligned with your idea. Talk to vendors, attendees and your competitors. Talk with suppliers who will be more than happy to take the time to speak with you as a possible source of new business. Compare pricing and service models. Learn as much as you can about the market you’re about to enter and all the players.

As you start on your Business Canvas, you will be grateful for the time and energy you put into the Ideation Stage of your business.