When I talk to young entrepreneurs I’m always impressed by the enthusiasm and passion they have for their new business ideas. While I want them to be excited, I also want them to succeed in the long-term. Unfortunately, excitement doesn’t always map to success. There are two questions that should be asked of any idea before an entrepreneur unleashes their enthusiasm. First, “Can this idea disrupt the status quo?” If it’s not going to disrupt someone’s existing business, the idea may not be valuable enough to drive a successful new business.
The second question is “Will this be a feature, a product or a business?” This is about defining scope. Many interesting ideas are really new features for existing products. The risk is whether these features generate enough value to differentiate an entire product. When considered in isolation, these cool features can appear monumental. However, when seen from the context of busy customers who are difficult to reach and resistant to changing what works, it’s clear the value on offer must reach epic proportions. It’s better to focus on an entire new product experience.
Many new products replicate some existing product functionality but the most successful products redefine the overall experience to such an extent they create a new category. Yet, even this is not always enough. If this new product is successful, are there adjacent problems and customers to drive a string of hit products? One successful product can be the basis of a new venture but successful entrepreneurs think about building businesses not just products.