5 Ways to Stop Your Business Idea from Sucking.

The best ideas start out really bad, here’s how to make yours a good one.

For entrepreneurs, life is all about creating change and challenging conventional wisdom. Do it better, faster, smarter. That mindset often leads to lots of ideas and many potential avenues to explore. This inherent indecisiveness leads most entrepreneurs to end up choosing an idea that actually sucks.

So then how do you come up with a startup idea that doesn’t suck?

The first thing to understand is that not all ideas are the same.

Every idea is different whether in shape, size, scale, or scope. The differences mean that not every idea can be successful, and not every idea you can pull off.

It’s important to realize that it’s not just about finding the right startup idea, it’s also about finding the right idea for you.

I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 qualities your idea needs to make sure it doesn’t suck and is actually worth pursuing.

The 5 Qualities of Startup Ideas That Don’t Suck

1. It makes use of your talents passions and skills.

The best business ideas are a mix of self-discovery, inspiration, and observation. Start by figuring out what comes naturally to you and you are truly passionate about. While thinking about your own natural talents and gifts, keep an eye out for unmet needs.

Ask yourself introspective questions:

What are people asking you for help with?

What do they keep making mistakes on?

What do you wish was available that could help you in your life?

What product or service would you buy if it was accessible and affordable?

The things that come easy to you but are a challenge to others are a great place to start. Success comes much easier to those that enjoy what they are doing, and using your innate talents helps that immensely.

Bottom Line: If you spend your time recognizing your own complaints, the idea that just pops in your head may not be so crazy after all.

2. It meets a real need.

The biggest mistake founders make is chasing an idea that sounds like it should work, but in actuality no one needs it bad enough to use it. Paul Graham from the world famous startup incubator Y-Combinator calls these ‘sitcom ideas’ in his essay “How to Get Startup Ideas”

“Imagine one of the characters on a TV show was starting a startup. The writers would have to invent something for it to do. But coming up with good startup ideas is hard. It’s not something you can do for the asking. So (unless they got amazingly lucky) the writers would come up with an idea that sounded plausible, but was actually bad.”

Instead of going on a hunch and working on an idea that sounds like it should work but has no evidence of having a true need, start out by being observant of the people around you. Watch and listen for common, repeated problems and frustrations. If you hear something enough then it’s likely worthwhile to see if you can solve it.

You will be the most successful with a problem that you personally care about, are passionate about solving, and that applies to real people that are extremely frustrated by it and are dying for a solution.

Bottom Line: You need to find people with really bad itch, and then provide them the calamine lotion.

3. It needs to be simple.

It’s important to realize that the best ideas start out as extremely simple concepts. Think Starbucks — Howard Schultz’s idea was to recreate the Italian coffee experience on every corner of the United States. This all boils (ha ha) down to selling coffee in a unique atmosphere. Simple concept right? It now has a $69 billion dollar market cap.

For most, ideas may start simply but they don’t end up that way. The excitement that comes with a new idea quickly balloons into lots and lots of features that could be added to make it even better. In project management this is commonly referred to as “scope creep” and it kills so many startups.

“Scope Creep is the subtle process that starts with small adjustments and ends up resulting in projects that take far longer to complete or even fail before they are finished.”

The lesson here is, don’t try and solve every problem right out of the gate. Rather than trying to make a big complex idea, your idea should focus on one single feature that meets the biggest need your audience has. This will ensure you can actually deliver on it and you are only testing one concept at a time in the marketplace.

Bottom Line: As the late great Mr. Rogers stated often and lived his life by:

Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.”

4. It’s easy to communicate the value of.

Simplicity should also carry over to your ability to communicate the value that the idea to provides. This is often referred to as the “value proposition” in marketing circles, and it’s an extremely important element of a successful idea.

Value proposition refers to a business or marketing statement that a company uses to summarize why a consumer should buy a product or use a service.”

If you can’t reach your audience and gain their attention, all the hard work that you have put in will go unnoticed. A great idea can be easily summarized and pitched at a moments notice. When we think of a “viral hit” it’s something that we can tell someone in just a few seconds and they get interested in it.

Here are some great one-line descriptions:

Mark Zuckerberg describing Facebook early on:

“Something where you can type someone’s name and find out a bunch of information about them.”

Travis Kalanick describing Uber early on:

“You push a button and in five minutes a Mercedes picks you up and takes you where you want to go.”

While both of these ideas have more features than that, the lead feature is all the matters. It conveys the value right up front and let’s people know why they should be interested in it.

This all lends itself to great word of mouth and organic promotion, something that a great idea absolutely needs if it wants to take off. Whittle your idea down until it fits as simply as those examples above do. If you can’t describe it simply, it’s too big and too complex to be any good.

Bottom Line: You need to be able to summarize your idea in a simple one-line sentence or no one is going to care.

5. It has mass appeal.

When it comes to market size, founders tend to make two types of mistakes:

  1. They try and reach everyone or
  2. they go too niche and address too small of a market.

A great idea doesn’t need to start in big market, and in fact, it’s best to start with a smaller market that has an opportunity to grow into a bigger market.

Facebook started with Harvard only, then moved to other colleges, and then anyone with an .edu email address, before it started going global.

Uber started with San Francisco, then expanded to more choice cities, before going global.

This doesn’t mean you need to be working on an idea that’s got the potential to go global to be successful. It simply means that you need to have an idea that is big enough to scale in a way that you can reach your goals, whatever they may be.

If you want to make a few dollars, you can get by with an audience of 5,000 people. If you want to make millions, you’ll need to be addressing a lot more than that. And then if you want unicorn status, your idea better have universal appeal that crosses borders.

So think about how your big idea can reasonably scale to and make sure it matches your goals.

Bottom Line: If you decide to sell bedazzled eye patches to the elderly, you better be sure there’s enough one-eyed grandmas out there to support your business.

And here’s an extra bonus tip to make sure your idea doesn’t suck:

6. You Found it the Right Way.

Coming up with a business idea that you’re genuinely interested in, passionate about, familiar with, and can be profitable with is quite challenging.

Since this is the most critical aspect of business success, I’m hosting a free live workshop that explains all of the steps necessary to find the right idea to get started with.

Full Course Available at courses.foundingfast.com

Sign up for this Free Live Training and get the techniques, real world examples, and a free time-saving checklist to make sure you don’t miss any steps, as well as access to a special #slack channel to get all of your questions answered.

Did your idea pass the Suck Test? Tweet me @foundingfast on twitter.