I’ve got an idea

In the last part of the “Italian Job” film, the original UK version not the US remake, the gang are stuck in a precarious position when a lone voice shouts out “hang on, I’ve got an idea”. For many entrepreneurs their journey into business starts with such an idea. That is the kernel that grows and flourishes into a viable business. But for many people, quite often those seeking small business advice, their idea is all they have, and they expect someone to fund them or get them started just on the strength of their lone idea. So what qualifies an idea as being a viable business, and when is it just day dreaming?

To be able to assess an idea it really needs to be developed, it needs to be put into some sort of context, and quite often a business plan is the vehicle for that. By doing this some value is attached to the idea. What can be seen as “behind” the idea value, such as what it will need in resources to provide. And the “front-end” value, what customers will pay for the result. Questions like “is it possible to do this”? and “if I do it will I be able to sell it?” will be addressed if not answered. By doing so the idea emerges into the daylight of commercial reality. For funders this allows the concept to be identified and reviewed. If the business is self-funded this can be the “Go-No Go” moment. A quick google search will find lots of websites out there to help you develop a small business plan, as well as other useful information on getting started.

There also seem to be cultural differences. In the US if a competitor offers a chocolate flavour, US entrepreneurs seem quite happy to adopt the idea and offer a chocolate flavour as well. Here in the UK we have a tendency to develop some other flavour, anything other than chocolate, and compete with that. As Joe Melle mentioned in his business journey last month, learning from failure is a big aspect. Here in the UK we try and avoid failure or see it as being “bad”. This risk aversion can mean we don’t as readily try new things or develop new markets as quickly.

And that is the final point. Entrepreneurs do get to market. Even if their idea does not at first seem to be commercially viable, somehow they will find a way to adapt and get to market. So don’t just sit there thinking “wow what a great idea”, adopt the US model, and like the licence plates in Missouri say, “Show Me”.