You’ve heard it before: most startups fail. It’s a fact of life that all entrepreneurs have to deal with. The excitement entrepreneurs feel when they think they’ve come up with the next big startup idea inspires hard work and unwavering dedication, but that’s not always a good thing. When positive emotions take control, it can create a smoke screen that clouds basic common sense and professional judgment.
The smartest entrepreneurs consistently put their startup ideas under the microscope and ask themselves, “Will this really work?”
Here are some things you can do to assess the potential success of your startup idea.
Talk to potential customers
A startup succeeds when it solves a problem for the customer. If you’re serious about a startup idea, identify its target customers and get in touch with them. Ask for their opinions on your business idea and find out if they would be interested in your product. It doesn’t matter if you think your product will fulfill their needs if your target customer disagrees. Find out by asking them face-to-face and aligning your ideas with their needs.
Seek out 3 mentors and get their opinions
Experience is everything. One of the best ways to determine whether your idea is viable or not is to discuss it with people who have more experience than you do. Seek out at least five mentors and ask for their honest opinions about your startup idea. Is it really solving a problem? Does it have the legs for the long haul? Ask the hard questions and gauge the viability of your idea
Research the ways your industry is changing
Will your solution be relevant in six months? One year? Two years? How can you adapt to changing trends? If you’re going to launch a startup, you need to know your industry. Invest time into researching your industry and where it’s headed from here. If your idea can’t sustain itself over time or adapt to upcoming shifts in the industry, it’s better to know now than after you’ve invested your time, money, body and mind.
Get a legal overview
Again, in the excitement that comes with a new idea, it’s easy to overlook important details. Intellectual Property is a cornerstone of the startup world and entrepreneurs like yourself need to take it seriously. Look at your business idea through a legal lens and ensure your startup won’t run into any major roadblocks once you launch. Hire someone to help out if you have to. There are a lot of great attorneys out there that focus on startups. Try to get in to see a good attorney and ask for their opinion and advice when you are ready. But also be careful not to get too bogged down. Sometimes the speed of startups is faster than the speed of law. A good attorney will help you balance any potential legal issues with the time and costs of protecting you and your startup. Check out our article about Traklight and how they help startups analyze their situations and establish sound legal foundations.
Research your competition
Take a look at similar companies that you’d be competing with if you launch your startup. It’s hard, but try to investigate whether your own product can outperform theirs. If not, you might want to rethink your business concept. Obviously it’s a challenge to admit to yourself that your product can’t perform better than the competition’s, but again, it’s better to acknowledge that before you launch.
Learn when to ditch an idea
The hardest part about being an entrepreneur is letting go of a good idea. Just like a writer forces himself to delete entire paragraphs, or even chapters, an entrepreneur needs to realize that there will always be more ideas. It’s better to wait for the right one instead of taking a risk and dealing with an ongoing struggle that could have been avoided.
If you consume yourself with the wrong concept, you could be missing out on the idea of a lifetime. While you’re trying to stay above water, you could have been developing the idea that would have been a huge success.
Set goals. Accomplish goals. Reassess priorities. Do it again.
Keep yourself on a schedule, and make time every couple weeks to review your work. Are your ideas panning out? Is your venture staying on the path you want it on? Keep an eye on your project to make sure it is going the way you want it to. Set goals, work to accomplish them, and then check them off the list. Reassess priorities. Set goals, accomplish them, reassess priorities, and do it again. Sounds simple or even boring. But this is one of the keys to entrepreneurship. Of course you will get pulled in a million directions, but keeping focused on what you need to accomplish is crucial.
Is it worth it to avoid criticizing your own startup idea? Never. Stay honest with yourself and you’ll have a better chance of creating a super successful business. Tell us your story @StarterNoise via Twitter!
Derek Rundell, is a successful business leader, operator, and serial entrepreneur. Derek has founded, managed and sold businesses in the technology, media and finance industries. He sits on several boards and serves as an advisor/investor to numerous established businesses and startups. Startups are Derek’s real passion, and in addition to building his own portfolio of technology, media and financial ventures, he invests in and mentors startups and entrepreneurs. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and helping other businesses succeed.