Everyone’s got a business idea. A new way to make xyz simpler. The new Uber of Industry-X. Everyone is always excited to share their ideas and eager to be validated by their audiences.
The truth is, an idea is paradoxically worth gold and worth nothing at the same time.
Your idea is the seed that could create an empire. But it’s absolutely useless until you actually do something with it.
Get it on paper.
Organize your thoughts into a business snapshot.
Over the last decade, I’ve used variations of the Business Model Canvas with creators and entrepreneurs.
It’s a concise, visual document that compacts some of the most important aspects of a business opportunity into one page.
However, there are issues with this approach:
- It’s a visual document, and not everyone has access to visual design tools. It’s one step of friction that gets in the way of progressing.
- It’s everything all at once, with no hierarchy or clear path to entry. Some processes should be linear. Business definition is one of them.
- It only factors in the business components, and not the individual. If we want to truly create an amazing business, it must be conceived be from a place of purpose, passion, and service.
In working with entrepreneurs throughout this past decade, I’ve adapted this exercise into something much simpler, faster, and more impactful.
This new approach is rapid, linear, and dead simple to follow. You can do it in 30 minutes or less, without any design tools.
Answer questions that matter, fast. Don’t be perfect.
Quickly form the impression of an idea now, then evolve the impression over time. Remember, we’re far from executing. This is just about getting traction.
1. What audience do you serve?
Who are your early adopters? Uber served SFO entrepreneurs. AirBnb served couch surfers. Define your best guess for your first audience.
2. Who is this audience?
What does your typical person face day-to-day? Empathize with them. Understand what motivates them, and what they dislike. What is their personality like?
3. What challenges does this audience face?
Which challenges do you want to solve? Challenges are both:
- External (money, time, productivity, vanity)
- Internal (security, love, meaning & purpose)
4. What attracts you to this audience?
Are you excited to serve this audience? Will you be passionate about this business in 3 years? The most successful businesses are led by people who are passionate about the cause. Do something that matters.
5. How does your audience currently solve these challenges?
Today, people use phones to take pictures. 10 years ago, people used cameras. Over 100 years ago, and people were painting pictures. And before that, people told stories. You can do the same thing in many different ways. How is your audience doing it?
6. What channels does your audience use in their life and work?
How will you meet your people where they are? This can range from social media to blogs, to the cities where they live and the stores they buy from.
7. What are all possible ways to solve your audiences’ challenges?
Find unique ways to solve challenges. Brainstorm as many ways to solve as possible. Then think of more. This is about quantity, not quality. Don’t limit yourself to your comfort. Challenges can be solved by products, services, content, and hybrid approaches.
8. What can you do better than the competition?
How will you create a product or service that serves in a new and unique way? How will you be the differentiating factor? Why will your audience switch to your business?
9. What are the specific metrics that will indicate the success or failure of your business?
What you measure, grows. Measure the most important growth factors.
This will change at different stages of your company. In the beginning, you’ll want to focus on metrics around:
- People learning about your company
- Acting on your marketing
- Paying for your product
10. How much will this business cost in the first year?
Estimate the best you can. Do you want employees? Do you want an office? What licensing and permits required? What marketing will be needed to reach your audience effectively? What will you pay yourself?
11. What are the various ways this business can make money?
This is a unique opportunity for innovation. Your products, services, and content all complement each other. Leverage all three to build and diversify income.
12. What are your revenue goals over a 5 year period?
Find a way to balance an aggressive goal with a realistic achievement. Consider the industry, the current economy, and the amount of money your audience is willing to spend solving this challenge.
Make it simple. Make it fast.
Ideas are fleeting. Strike while the iron is hot.
Make real progress, now. Quickly research and process the information available. Your assumptions will change over time. What matters is you take the time right now to understand if you should take the next step.
Interpret what you’ve learned. Do you want to work for this audience? Do you still want to make this idea a reality? Does it make you excited? Or, does it feel like a task?
If you want to do something bigger, do it now.
If the idea isn’t right, you’ll know within 30 minutes. If it is right, this could be the most profitable 30 minutes you’ve ever invested.
Check out this free online tool for a quick way to get clarity on your idea.
I built it to help my friends and clients move faster on their ideas. I want to share it with you too. Afterward, you’ll get a summary of the results emailed to you right away.
A successful colleague in real estate technology said, “I honestly loved it. It was a good way to get shit out on paper.” I think she was talking about her idea. 😂🔥🙌
I hope this saves you some time and helps you move forward with a great business idea.