Is Your Idea Actually Terrible? What to Know.

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Sometimes, bad ideas happen to good people. We talked to a panel of experts in innovation about what bad ideas have in common to help you recognize them when they happen and figure out your plan of action.

The problem only you have. Just because a solution works for you, it might not work for anyone else or make good business sense, says Jonathan Axelrod, managing director at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator. Don’t assume that your needs are the market’s needs.

The idea you’ll monetize later. Finding a path to profitability is essential in testing the viability of an idea and whether it can find success. Crunch some hard numbers, suggests Greg Grove, an attorney at Chicago’s Much Shelist, and know what the cost to acquire customers will be, when you might break-even, and if it’s not too late to really reap the profits you think are available. After looking at the data, says Grove, “an idea that might initially look good, might be less good than you think.”

Related: What All Great Business Ideas Share

The idea that’s perfect and can’t be changed. Be willing to iterate and talk with others about your idea, says Grove. Letting others weigh in on your solution and add their perspectives can make a bad idea into a good one. It can also help you understand if you need to cut your losses. Adds Grove, “If you gather the resources of your network and your mentors, your peers and your friends, and you say ‘I can’t solve these problems. I can’t make a successful business out of it’” then perhaps moving on to another idea is the best course.”

Related: To Manage Innovation, Manage Failure Better

The idea that will change everything. Be careful of big ideas, says Jeanne M. Liedtka, a professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. She says, “Any idea that’s really big and obvious enough that I can see it without rolling up my sleeves and doing any real work -- there’s a reason why nobody’s brought that to market.” She says thinking smaller can give you the chance to build upon existing markets, pivot when necessary and grow something viable.

For more insights, watch this short hangout. Other videos from this series can be found here

Related: Prove Your Business Idea Will Succeed
Edition: May 2017

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