Make More Happen

5 Ways to Salvage Promising Ideas That Aren't Working Out

5 Ways to Salvage Promising Ideas That Aren't Working Out
Image credit: Shutterstock
Reader Resource

Position yourself for growth in 2017—join us live at the Entrepreneur 360 Conference in Long Beach, Calif. on Nov. 16. Secure Your Seat »

It’s a great feeling when that light bulb goes on in your head and you have that “aha moment” that says a great idea is in the works. However, when you start thinking it through a bit more, and you progress to the initial product development stages, you may begin to doubt your idea is useable. It doesn’t mean you should give up on your idea or jump to focus on a new idea just yet.

Useful ideas provide what your audience needs in a way that is enjoyable and convenient. Before concluding your "aha moment'' is a dead end, try these way to salvage your inspiration:

1. Conduct more research.

With further research, you may be surprised to find that your idea can be useable for a different demographic or problem. Look at recent trends and consider existing threats and opportunities to see if your idea is a useable response to those trends, threats, and/or opportunities. After all, you cannot solve what you do not understand. In taking a page from Albert Einstein’s book, he said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” Therefore, understanding the problem, issue, or pain point is the primary way you can make that idea useable.

Related: Why You Need to Keep Thinking About Your Business Every Single Day

2. Further differentiate you offering from the competition.

Your idea might be promising but unusable because it looks too much like what the competition already offers. Your target audience is unlikely to switch until you make it provides more value to them. What you add onto your idea does not necessarily have to be new to be different. You can just borrow an idea from another type of product and use it in a new and different way with your idea. Just make sure that the additional differentiating feature(s) are definitely something your target audience needs to solve that critical issue.

3. Conduct a focus group.

Present the idea to a focus group from the target audience and ask them what would make it useable. They can more effectively pinpoint the strengths and unveil the weaknesses of your idea. The perspective of the eventual end-user will help you make that necessary alignment of product and market. While your audience may not always know exactly what they want, their insights will help you create something more useable.

Related: The 7 Steps of Effective Product Development

4. Brainstorm with others.

Brainstorm with your team or colleagues how the idea could become a product prototype or a service solution. Sometimes, a different set of eyes and perspective is all it takes for an idea to take flight. I personally enjoy a weekly phone call with five or six friends to examine different ideas and sell the others on it. We then tear that idea apart to help flesh out the good and the bad behind the idea. This helps me to better myself and grow.

Find a couple friends who you can do this with. Remember not to be to critical or to light on people. You want to train your minds to become better.

5. Use your idea as a launching point.

Your idea may just  evolve into an entirely different product or service from the original concept. There’s nothing wrong with this. You used the idea to get to something that is now useable and has the appropriate market fit.

Break the idea down to its smallest components, extract what has merit and potential, the discarding what is not usable, such as unnecessary features or an impressive design that doesn’t actually solve anything. Some of today’s most popular brands were very different when they started out. For example, Twitter, Groupon, PayPal, Flickr, Instagram, and more all started out as something quite different from the successful products and services they are today.

Taking one idea and turning it around is commonly referred to as pivoting. It’s how many businesses have transformed a not-quite-right idea into a marketable and sustainable solution. Don’t just discard an idea that isn’t an immediate fit. Instead, see how you can adapt it by doing further research, differentiating it further, asking your audience and colleagues, and leveraging it as a launching point for even bigger and better useable ideas.

Related: Get Your Product Figured Out First