How to Turn a Worthless Business Idea into a Million-Dollar Startup If you're dreaming about starting a business, you'll need to start validating your idea if you want to really make a go of it. Here's how to begin.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Everyone has ideas. I get ideas by the dozen. When I'm brushing my teeth, when I'm driving to work, when I'm at my desk reading an article. But that does not mean that all can be converted into million-dollar businesses.
Not that these cannot be converted into million-dollar businesses, but I may simply not be driven enough to see those particular ideas through to that milestone.
You may get many ideas, too. But if you don't, don't despair. You don't need ideas to start a business. Regardless, your business ideas are worthless. Let me explain why.
Ideas are just ideas. An idea is the seed of a successful product or service. Without proper care and maintenance, it will not bloom. Ideas require solid research of the target market, a good strategy and a sound business plan, without which, ideas cannot go much further.
If you want to start a business and make a go of it, you need more than just an idea. To begin turning startup dream into a million-dollar business, consider the following advice.
1. Settle on one business idea.
If you're mulling a number of ideas, odds are good that none of them will see the light of the day. Why do I say that? Because your approach is all wrong. Skimming through different ideas every day and figuring out whether they motivate you or whether they work won't get you anywhere.
The amount of time you're spending on them will likely be insufficient. An you're probably not passionate about any of them. So how do you fix it? Take one idea that moves you, that you feel most passionate about and stay with it. Stay with one till you can't go any further. Until you've given it your all.
Only then will you know whether or not that business idea is worth a million dollars.
2. Validate your idea.
Your idea is absolutely worthless if you keep it to yourself and do not test it with actual customers.
Writing a business plan with projections through market research is a sure-shot way to a startup doomsday. Nothing beats an actual customer using your product or service.
So how do you get to customers when you're at the idea stage and don't want to spend a huge sum building something they don't want?
Build a minimum viable product or a prototype. The idea is to put out something that offers the main value of your startup or that solves the core problem of your customers.
The prototype could be a PowerPoint slide, a dialogue box or just a landing page. This is something that you can often build it in a day or a week. A prototype can be an actual functioning product with the core features offered.
Share this with your network and see the response. Are people excited to use it? Do they feel their needs or problems are resolved by using your product? Is it easy to use?
There is no such thing as a million-dollar idea. Facebook was not a million- (or billion) dollar idea until it saw the light of the day, until it was executed.
Ideas evolve into products which themselves evolve over a period of time through constant customer feedback and use. You must build a prototype, beta or a minimum viable product and get it out in the hands of the customer. Let your customer decide whether the idea is of value or not.
Most people just don't get their products out in time and spend most of their resources in trying to build that one perfect product. Save yourself some grief, time and, most of all, cash, and build on a product that your customers want.
4. Find a large market.
Don't waste your time on an idea that does not cater to a large audience. Sure, you can start local and expand later, but is your idea solving the needs of a few hundreds? Is your idea scalable to the next hundred thousand? If not, you're not building a business.
Validate whether the problem that you are trying to solve is truly the problem of the masses. And not just yours and a few neighbors and friends or your network.
Think big, think global, if you can.
Base your idea on a large audience and you've got yourself a product with the potential to grow into a larger and a more successful business.
5. Make it a must-have, not a nice-to-have.
A lot of ideas are utter nonsense. Those can surely be turned into selling products, but you won't end up building a business out of them. These are the nice-to-have ideas.
You must spend time getting to know from the market whether your idea or product is a nice-to-have or a must-have. Nice-to-have products are mostly in the novelty domain or are not compelling enough for customers to buy or own.
If you want your ideas to develop into successful products that help you create and sustain a business, then go after must-have ideas.
So, decide what is important to you: the figment of your imagination that tells you your idea is a million-dollar one or validating it to build something that can get you the actual million dollars.
Related: Serial Entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chahal on a Business Idea Myth (Video)