My Top 10 Grains for Sand
Let’s call these gems my Top 10 Grains of Sand, those seemingly tiny things that can cause so much trouble.
Grain of Sand #1
Just because you think it’s a good idea doesn’t mean others will. There are many examples of “great ideas” that weren’t that great. That goes for some of my own ventures. I also did a quick search online and found a couple of other examples: Odor-emitting Computer – an entrepreneur raised $20 million to create a USB stick that emits a scent (think perfume or a pizza) when you receive promotional email. Cool tech, but really? Another example is the Chocolate Sausage on a Stick. Yes, it really was a product for a very short time.
Clearly, the people behind these ideas were dedicated to them. But there was no market. Just because YOU think it is the best idea ever doesn’t mean others will. Test your idea on friends, of course, but more important, test it on “experts” – conduct focus groups. Hear from the audience that you are trying to sell it to. Come away with an honest answer to the critical question, “Is this really a good idea?” Sure, it solves a problem you’ve identified in your own life, but your market has to span well beyond just a few people.
Grain of Sand #2
You determined it’s a great idea; you are going for it. You clearly know what you’re doing and you’ve tested the waters. It will work. That’s what my husband did. There was no doubt that he understood the customers he was going to serve and there was no doubt that his offerings (software and services) would solve significant problems for these customers. Lesson learned: Just because you have a great idea, doesn’t make it a business.
There are many building blocks and hurdles you need to get through to transform an idea into a product and then a business. If you are catering your products or services to a very niche audience, then your ability to grow the business will be limited by the target market who can use your product. If you’ve created a great product, but it takes a degree in quantum physics for someone to use it or understand, then you have a minimal audience who can deploy your product. If you have a service that solves a problem for many but does it in a specific way that only can help a few, then you are limiting your market. Failure to think broadly about your business model in a way that can reach the greatest audience without being too generic can cause your product or service, even if it’s a great idea, to fail as there is not enough demand.