Quick Checklist to Improve Idea Selection

You may have just settled back after a week or two away from the business.  And if you are like me, by the conclusion of that holiday your mind was buzzing with new ideas…nothing like a bit of a break to get the old grey matter sizzling.  But not all business ideas are good ideas and nothing is more detrimental to your business than draining energy and resources on the wrong idea.

So how do you know which ideas are the right ones to pursue?  Not an easy question to answer, as one man’s great idea may be another man’s wild goose chase.  With any small business idea it is critically important to take time out to consider the idea’s merits for yourself and your customers before you take the plunge.  Here is a quick checklist to help you think each idea through.

Does your idea capitalize on your personal business strengths or emphasize your limitations?
It’s a good idea to have made a list of all your personal business strengths and limitations before you start assessing ideas.  Consider your skills in planning, communication, decision-making and problem solving.  What are your resources, experience, knowledge and education?  Does your idea capitalize on your strengths or highlight your weaknesses?  Make sure your idea is not just a good one, but a good one for you!

Can you be passionate about creating and delivering your idea?
Does this idea align with your passions – if so, it is far more likely to be successful.  If you love writing and are considering opening a copywriting business then you may be on the right track.

Does your idea fit your existing business strategy?
If you already have a business, how does your new idea fit with your long-term strategy for the existing business?  A really great idea may warrant a change of strategy, but not without careful consideration.  Chasing brilliant, but non-strategic ideas can be a real pitfall for idea-rich entrepreneurs, so try to avoid the trap.

Does your idea satisfy or create a market need?
If you don’t know the answer to this question then you will need to do some research before you give the idea a green light.

How unique is your idea and how strong is the competition?
Assuming your idea does satisfy a need, then the more unique it is to offerings already in the market the greater the potential.  If your idea is not especially unique then you need to consider the strength and resources of the competition.  Is there room for another player?

Does your idea create value for your existing customers?
If you are already running a business then it is important to consider whether your idea will fit your existing customer base or if it will require establishing an entirely new base.  Building a new customer base is not only costly, but potentially risks losing your existing customers as your attention becomes diverted.

Where does your idea fit cyclically? 
Is your idea a seasonal or short-term idea?  Will you be entering a new market in a stage of market growth, saturation or decline?

Is your idea one you can build on in the future?
Consider whether your idea is a short-term offering or a platform from which to grow in the future.  This is not to suggest that a short-term idea is a bad idea, but the long-term strength of the idea should be considered when choosing between alternative ideas and also when deciding how much to invest in a new idea.
There are no right or wrong answers to the questions in this checklist.  But the process of answering these questions will help you to choose the ideas most likely to lead to business success.

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