How to recognize a million-dollar idea when you have one
If you had a dollar for every time you thought, “Why didn’t I think of that?” you’d probably be a millionaire already.
Most entrepreneurs spend their careers – if not their whole lives – striving to have the elusive million-dollar idea: the one gadget, gizmo or service that people didn’t know they needed but suddenly can’t live without. But whether it’s come to you at 3 a.m. as a frustrated thought during your morning commute, or as an “I wonder what would happen if…” in the middle of the grocery store, chances are you’ve already had one.
Most unique ideas are born out of common frustrations, needs and desires. Take the story of Sara Blakely, for example. Before she founded her billion-dollar company, Spanx, Blakely was a door-to-door fax machine sales rep. She bought a pair of cream-colored slacks to wear to a party, but didn’t love how they looked in the mirror. She needed a quick solution, so she cut the feet off a pair of pantyhose, put them on under her pants and left for her evening out.
Blakely probably didn’t realize that her quick thinking that night would revolutionize the women’s clothing industry, and it could have been a one-off, had she never thought about it again. The fact that she recognized and pursued her idea is what made all the difference.
Here’s how you can harness your own “aha” moment and turn it into the next big thing.
Write it down
Whether it’s a 2 a.m. thought or a fleeting idea at work, you never know when inspiration will strike. Keep a notebook on hand or a running list on your phone where you can write down ideas before they disappear. Don’t worry about fully fleshing them out at first, because you can always expand on them later.
Feed a need
Now that you have some ideas jotted down, start identifying which of them could become a product, service or program that meets a specific need. This will help you narrow your focus and find a solution for which you (and others) have been waiting.
Make a plan
Not all ideas have cost-effective solutions or customers who are willing and able to pay for them. One of the best ways to tell if your big idea will be successful in the real world is to draft a business plan, including a budget, a business model and marketing strategies.
Test your assumptions
Use your connections, social media, or interactive blogging to test and tune your idea before spending any money. Are you receiving any constructive feedback that could make your program better or similar concerns about your new product? If the answer is yes, you may need to go back to the drawing board.
The size of your vision will determine the size of your success. Set your sights high, and remember that failure is not fatal. Embrace it, and use it to your advantage.