How Good is Your Idea?

You know what’s easy to come by? Ideas. You know what’s hard to come by? Ideas.

I’m sure everybody has doc sitting in the cloud or on their desktop where they jot down the best ideas that come to mind. (If you don’t, start immediately.)

One day, you’ll end up opening that doc to decide which one of your ideas deserves to be turned into a product. How do you choose? They all seemed so good when you had those epiphanies.

At Churn Labs we have an idea sheet shared amongst everybody. Everybody is encouraged to contribute. We’re closing in on over 100 ideas and every one of them seem good. The problem is we only have a finite number of people to execute these ideas. How do you separate the “good” ideas from the cruft ones? Here’s my list of criteria when evaluating an idea.

  • Solve a real problem – Even better if it’s a problem that you personally have. When you’re chasing a solution to a problem you’ll never need to know what to do next.
  • Take advantage of emerging trends/technology – Is your idea only possible now because of an emergent trend/technology? At Churn, we ask is this idea only possible now because everybody has a smartphone in their pocket? Ride the waves.
  • Risk : Reward – How quickly can you create an MVP? Crazy ideas are worth testing if you can build and launch a product fast.
  • Less crowded spaces – How many other startups are in the general space your idea occupies? Ideally, the answer should be close to zero. Less noise, greater chance of lift off.
  • Distribution – There are literally a thousands of startups. Once again, how do you rise above the noise? If you’re idea is inherently viral, it will be much easier to gain traction. You’ll spend much less effort and time to acquire every new user.

Qualifying ideas well help you sort out your own noise and you’ll spend less time on ideas that looked great at first blush.

Also, share your ideas with everybody, don’t be secretive. The mere act of talking through an idea with another person will help you solidify it. You’ll be forced to formulate your ideas into coherent sentences. You’ll be surprised how a great idea on paper sounds utterly ridiculous when you say it out loud.

On the other side, if you’re lucky enough to be a sounding board for someone with an idea, do NOT start off by putting up road blocks. “I don’t think that will work because ….” or “but what about …” are absolutely the worst things you can say. Instead, pause and think about how you can make the idea better. Fan the flames of creativity instead of extinguishing them. At the very least you’ll be exercising your idea muscle.

image from bitzcelt