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Idea to business

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

I have an idea, how do I design a business around it? I have an idea, can I make a business out of it? I know how to make something, how can I make a business?

I have some skills, like coding, drawing, writing. How do I make it into a business?

I have some knowledge, like a university degree. How do I turn that into knowledge?

Ultimately, you need to find the people you relate, using your skills you relate, and create value the others would accept. Your relationship with the problem count, your relationship with the technology count, your relationship with the value statement count.

If you want others to accept your vision and give you money to pursue YOUR dream of helping others, there are only two words for that: Fat Chance.

The only thing that stops people from starting is fantasy and lunacy.

The only thing that cause startup to end is you quitting.

How to design an offering and a business? A business must keep making new offerings. An offering must have the following traits:

  • stimulating

  • appealing

  • satisfying

Kind of similar to an ice cream or hamburger. An offering should stimulate as many senses as possible. Think about a Coke - it is

  • red

  • sexy

  • cold

  • smells like sugar

  • tastes sweet and refreshing

And it is only .60 dollars at resale! And you never have any complaining about "bad coke" or "coke that is expired". That is not automatically, there is hard work behind it.

A product must also satisfy a number of criteria:

  1. Magic

  2. Secret sauce

  3. Know how

  4. Refreshing

  5. Frequent dealing and consumptions

In addition, a product today needs to have:

  1. Design appeal

  2. Flankers

  3. Pricing advantage, either bottom price or top tier price

  4. Name appeal

  5. A fresh approach

  6. A first time method so people would want to try

In addition, a product or business needs to have some

  1. daily elements

  2. quality control and complaint management

  3. attractiveness

  4. additive, impulsive

  5. some familiar elements. A new product must involve some old, familiar elements

The daily elements is important. For example:

  1. Apple build stores, so you have chance to pass APPLE logos

  2. Trump send out tweets, even if news papers cover him everyday

  3. Google put out news, even you are already hooked on the search, and google put out gmail and Chrome to be close to you

  4. Yahoo sticks with the financial stock market data

  5. Your local city government takes up garbage cleaning (weekly) and parking meter enforcement.

  6. The Wright brothers is famous for inventing airplane, but they own a bicycle shop that repairs bikes

  7. Starbucks already has coffee business, but they also want to sell sandwiches. A person may go to starbucks once a week, but they will need food daily.

A product offer is always a guess. The formula is value x audience x population x unique effects x scaling operations. The total product of these is traction. Meaning your dream is permitted to land.

Business is to give value and it is also dog eat dog survival and innovation. Business method is often unfair advantage. So you must find your unfair advantage as well.


If you operate an online store or a real store, you must consider the following:

  1. Quality control, shipping guarantee and return policies;

  2. Rent (for real stores) and SEO search fees;

  3. Tiered items offerings and fleet of items, out of which one may be low margin but frequent, one might be high priced but infrequent. Remember, your cash register must ring all the time.

  4. Store clerk and store manager must be top tier and smart.


Keep in mind that the business is also your work. It needs to be interesting and stimulating. It needs to have some elements of stimulation and repetition. It is ultimately your occupation - how you fill your time and get rid of boredom.


Veteran pick the fat and good business - it is difficult.

Newbies pick the tough business, it is easy.

Veterans pick the difficult road to walk.

Newbies pick the impossible road to walk.


A product needs to have quality certificates, which requires factory certifications and ISO related mandates. It is costly both in terms of human costs and materials.

There are two ways a business draws customer: the customer comes by themselves, or the business goes out and acquire customers.

There are two kinds of "names" - fame, or brand. A fame is used for putting yourself in front of competitors. Let's say if someone asks Tom Cruise as a spokesperson they would get notices. The second type is brand - a brand is a product's namesake.

Sometimes a person turns a personal fame into a brand, but it is not always successful. Fame is short lived, whereas brand is long lasting.

An example is Jordan.


What to build if I have some skills?

If I have a product, who might want to buy it?

If I have a product, how do I make people pay me instead of just like it?

If I see a business opportunity, how to make sure people don't take my idea?


To be honest, any idea is a good idea. Any idea can be turned into business. However, the difference is how many tries does it take. For a business to be made, you need several rights and freedoms:

  • freedom of pricing space

  • ability to control quality high and low

  • freedom to interact with as many customers as possible

If all three are true, then it is just a matter of making enough money from operations to pay for the cost. However, many cases we can not charge what we want, and we did not have a space where many units of sales are present, and the customer engagement cost is really high.

Startups never fail. It is you run out money for a second start to correct mistakes.



If you can build anything, but you can build only one at a time and each takes 3 months to build and 3 years to run, what would you build?

Imagine you are designing a product - how to embedd the strong value message in there?

Imaging your offering is already made. For example a ring with a horse head decoration. How do you extract the value to horse lovers?

Imaging you have a business but it is forever tied to loans and advertisements? let say you spend 100K to get 200K? And you are working everyday to polish the advertisement because your money does not allow a second person to be hired? How do you scale it up so that you might be freed?

Imagine you are a student of computer science in 1973 and you did not know what is the potential of personal computers?

Suppose you are right about your vision but you can not plot your path.

Suppose you want to help someone but the people you want to help don't have money.

Imagine if you are right but no one else agrees - you are too early. (Case of Apple Newton)

Imagine you try to solve a bad problem, and developed a beautiful promising solution, but could not solve it soon enough (Vertical landing passenger jet)

Imagine you have a beautiful product a lot of people likes, but eventually a half way solution made you obsolete before catching on? (case: flying boat)

Imagine you made something wonderful and people like it, but you can only give it away for free. Then what?

Imagine you are Jerry Yang making a list of favorite sites, or a piano teacher with a good voice. How do you find the closest exit for a business? How does Jerry's List become a money making business? how does an integrated circuit, a hobby initially, become a business so big it eventually controlled the economic pace of the world?

What if, the rebels from Fairchild did not leave Schottky Electronics to start Intel? What if Apple's role reversed, where Jobs made the computer board and Wozniak was out selling the computer?

Imagine you made a new type of note book for book lovers but the volume is really low and you need to charge a high price, how do you justify the value to the right audience?

Imagine, if you breed organic carrot in the 1910 and wants to build a business, then everyone is not getting what you mean by "whole foods"

Imagine if you breed organic carrot in 1960, and only a few peoples "gets it" but there are millions of people who you can not reach by advertisement due to cost?

If you build something that you think someone would like, but you never find that person and never made a sale? perhaps because someone also built a better one?

Imagine if you succeed and you don't like the lean business you created.

Imagine, if Steve Jobs insists on doing the circuit board design.

Imagine, if Michael Jordan wants to debate about basketball talent and baseball.

Imagine, if Elon Musk insists on starting two companies, the first time around.

If you build a factory and get into debt and then find you can not make a profit because customer keeps drawn to the bad imitator?

If Andressen did not meet Clark, who realized that the browser can be packaged into an IPO

If Bill Gates did not make up a good legal document that basically prevented IBM team from benefiting from the IBM PC

if the investors of Zuckerberg did not realize that Myspace is not good enough.

If Facebook did not focus on advertising business but rather wants to become an "entertainer"

If the Panda Express founders only knows how to make good Chinese food.

If Amazon did not become a "store" company but becomes a "book store" company.

If Google just knows how to run a search engine but does not know how to make money from it


The BAIFI Business AI and Failure Intelligence simulation engine is a proprietary modeler for simulating startup activities. It can be used for generating and evaluating Vp, Bd, Bm, Bp and Pd. (Vp=Value Proposition; Bd=Businss design; Bm=Business model; Bp=Business plan, and Pd=product development)

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