How to design a good idea?

Updated: Jul 24

Summary: This post let you come up ideas based on you skill, capital and experience levels. We discuss five situations.


An idea has multiple elements or facts. Most ideas are just random, but some has room for improving. An idea must be a business worthy idea - otherwise it is just a hobby.


An idea has two parts: the idea itself, and how to execute it. It takes a clever person to come with an idea, but it takes an experienced genius to execute it.


A good idea needs a lot of your input, not just a "thought". You need to actively design an idea. You need to consider four elements:

  1. Your knowledge about a market;

  2. Your skills as a builder;

  3. Your experience as a business runner;

  4. Your capital and reserve funds;

If you can not check any of the four before, start building them.

(Advice: If you don't have any, you should get one. If you have skill but not others, you have a hobby. If you have skills and a business skill, then you are capable of designing a crude business concept/idea already.)

There are multiple ways to think of an idea.

  1. If you have a building skill, you can have an idea. (situation 1 below) Sometimes you have already built something, and you want to know who might want it, or would be willing to pay for it.

  2. If you know ins and outs of a market, you can have an idea. (situation 2 below).

  3. If you want to have a business, you should generate your idea this way. (situation 3 below)

  4. Big league ideas - if you want to make try a homerun (situation 4). When your idea is homerun (for example unicorn company or VC backable), you can get famous and paid even if you do not "succeed"

  5. Base run basic ideas - if you want to try a safe hit for first time (situation 5)

A FULL IDEA has three parts: the disruptive methods, business strategy, and audience. There will be competition - never except your idea secret to out smart someone or be in a vacuum with no competition.


Situation 1:

If you have a building skill, learn to "finish the building", and take this product to the market. You really don't need to think about other ideas. What you can build is your best idea.


Situation 2:

If you have market insider knowledge, then you can go to situation 3 focusing on that market you kow, and find someone or contact someone later to build any technical elements, but you need to have capital funds.


Situation 3:

Assemble these elements:

(1) Who is your audience.

(2) What is the market and industry your business is in.

(3) What business do you do with your audience, what value do you give them, what problem do you solve for them? Value can be a need you help them meet, a problem you help them solve, etc.

(4) What is the size of your audience, what is the price they can take and you can get.

(5) You need to be able to make this offering that delivers the value. You need to have building skills or marketing skills.

(6) To start any business, it is not enough to just try. You need to have an unfair advantage, otherwise incumbents or copycats will crush you or you will never find more than two single willing buyer. For example, time is one of the most important components. If your idea can be achieved any time, then it is perhaps not a terribly good idea.


When all this is done, you can make an artifact and even a product, and then approach the market to seek customer's approval. But this is very expensive.

Why idea design starts with people and audience? not technology?


Business is ultimately relations. People who you want to help needs to trust you and let you into their realm. It is a very expensive process. If you want to place "someone out of everyone" you will be supremely disappointed. If you solve a problem for someone, and that someone would not search for you, would not accept your solution, and would not pay, then your entire endeavor is wasted.

Never make a MVP first and then ask for "who is interested"


The world has a glut of everything. Most likely your idea is not new and competitors are everywhere already. Most likely you make something but your potential customers (1) don't know you are there; (2) don't like your solutions; (3) don't want to pay you, and (4) don't CARE to pay you. People must have trust and relation first before someone pays you. All get-rich-easy-n-quick schemes forget to include this clause.

Newbies try new. Try their own idea. Try to make solutions for some strangers. Veterans use other people's proven ideas and execute, and lock on audience first before even making anything. Veterans know that timing, team and business strategy is more important than "tech".

What is the critical difference of "targeting audience first and make for them" rather than "make something and then find someone?"


When you target the audience first, you make things for them. Otherwise they feel there is no authenticity.

A product, even if successful, is far removed from being a business. A product must be accepted, willingly paid for, establish regular business flow, prove profitability, and fight against competitors/copy cats. You need to have business strategies and flanker products to make money and profit, so your organization is financially sustainable. So if you start your startup activity with a product, it is like "buying a flower bouquet" to "married with children". We say this with seriousness.

If you start a business, start with a business concept, not just an idea for a product, gadget, or widget.

Situation 4


For big league ideas, you should try to disrupt something big with the benefits of timing. VC investors ask everyone to "think big". All the big players like Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Android take this route. Tesla was actually such an example. Big ideas plays the element of TIME. Big players only try hard things, never easy small things. Big ideas use hacks and time.


Situation 5


If you want a safe base run, where a company can be sold to another big company as a division, you should look into it. Don't use your own idea. Check out this link for options.


Caution:


When you want to make something new and try to get people to like it, it is very difficult. People have too much noise, they don't notice you, and they probably won't like it, or they like it but not enough to buy.


Never start with a haunch random idea and try to make a meal for yourself out of it. It is like never try to pick a vegetable leaf from the road and try to figure out an improvised dinner. It is idea lottery. Never take chances with lottery.

A good idea is not a "low cost" idea. A good idea raises big money to attack someone in a big fat business sector. It is to go attack the obstacle, not avoiding them.


Idea does not happen in vacuum, and does not start with a random problem. Design a good business concept, that is a complete idea.

An idea can be a gazillion different things.

  1. it can be an object or novelty (e.g., a coffee shop with pet store)

  2. it can be attribute of an object (e.g., a PURPLE shirt)

  3. it can be a business concept (e.g., a social networking cat hair saloon)

  4. it can be a problem (e.g., some people might want a bike tire that never flattens).

So naturally, there are gazillion different ideas. If you have a lot of ideas and wants to write them down, you can have a collection cabinet for random rocks on a beach.


Sometimes an idea is NEW to you only because you do not know something already exist and was not selling well. Some problems do not have "silver bullet" solutions - even the people you think will benefit will not like it or buy it.


Look at the idea hospital to see how to fix an idea.

Why it is crucial to focus on ONE. (Link)

How to design an idea from scratch that suits you? (Link)

Why you are your biggest enemy when it comes to focusing?

You don't need to use your own idea. There are too many ideas. Never keep your idea "secret", it just makes it worse. An idea is truly yours only after you act on it.

When you come across a random idea, how to identify its worth?


A bank of free good business ideas

An idea hospital that analyze random ideas

A case studies bank of examples

An idea evaluator

A Q&A box of startup questions commonly asked


Teensharks.us startup school website.

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