10 Rules That Nourish a Great Startup Idea



Ideas don’t matter, execution does. But even the world’s best entrepreneur would fail with a fundamentally flawed startup idea.

We talk a lot about startups, how to succeed, and what to do to build a large and loyal following on pretty much any social networking service, but we seldom touch the subject of the actual business idea itself. Coming up with a great idea, realizing it, and making sure to never stop until it’s successful, is one of the hardest tasks you can undertake as an entrepreneur.

There are a myriad of things you can do in order to procure your idea’s success, but without proper preparations, there are always going to be speed bumps that slow you down or completely break your startup idea apart. You have probably heard an overwhelming number of entrepreneurs tell you that their idea grew out of a need to optimize or create a tool or service that they themselves wanted but it wasn’t available, right?

That’s exactly what a great startup idea is built upon. If your idea is to only make money, then your chances for success are quite slim. No company makes good revenue the first three years in existence. It’s a buildup time, which should be used to make sure you’re not going out of business, and it’s a 24/7 endeavor.

With the help of “10 Rules for a Great Startup Idea” presented by Founder Institute (designed by Andrea Chen), we get to take part in what a bunch of successful entrepreneurs and company founders think should be the foundation of a successful startup idea. Once you have a look at this list, you will instantly have a chance to validate your idea, refine it, and even make sure to success-proof it for the future.

A great startup idea might hit you in an instant or take you forever to develop, but that’s not the issue here. The issue is that once you have your idea, you need to make sure that you solidify its birth, growth and maintain it with the tips presented. We can almost guarantee you that if you have a look at these tips, you will be able to find a way to deploy your idea to the world and nourish it through its beginning years, and make it into a huge success. Planning, creativity and dedication are the three cornerstones to a successful idea.  What you include in those categories is entirely up to you.

If you can check off the items below, then you can greatly increase your chances of success.

  1. You are passionate about it – If you’re pursuing an idea just to make money, stop right now. Money can be a great motivator, but it won’t get you through the dark times of being an entrepreneur. Are you so passionate about this problem that you can see yourself working on it in 10 years?
  2. It’s simple – Big ideas are raised, not born. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t wake up one morning and say, “I’m going to create the social graph.” All the great businesses of our time started with something simple, and then expanded upon that. Start by solving one problem, with one product, for one customer.
  3. One revenue stream – A startup would be more than lucky to execute with one revenue stream, let alone three or four. So, focus on one to start, and if you can’t identify one revenue stream that can support the business, then it’s a bad business.
  4. Few steps to revenue – How many things need to happen before you make a dollar? By going through this exercise you can identify the number of stakeholders involved, which equals complexity. No more than three steps to revenue is ideal.
  5. You know the customer – From the outset, you need to intimately know of one very specific archetype that desperately needs your product. And there’s nobody you know more intimately than yourself. That is why so many great businesses have been formed from a personal need.
  6. You know the market – How can you possibly have a meaningful vision about the future of a market if you are not a leading domain expert on it? If you are not an expert, then get to work!
  7. Sufficiently large market – Any market with fewer than 10 million people or multiple billions in annual revenue will be very hard to address, and is not worth your time. For example, if you won a $500M market, you would still only have a ~$50M business. You will die winning a small market; so don’t start up in a graveyard.
  8. Original “secret sauce” – Is what you’re doing unique, or better, than what everybody else is doing? Do you know a secret that nobody else does? Be bold, because the best ideas are transformational, not incremental.
  9. You have tried to kill it – Positive reinforcements are very easy to find, but your job in the idea stage, is to find the things that make your idea bad. Then, one-by-one, eliminate those negatives by iterating your idea.
  10. You are sharing your idea – The chances that someone is going to drop everything and devote their lives to executing your idea are slim-to-none. You are better off getting as much feedback as humanly possible.

“Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.”- Howard Aiken.



Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Mike Linksvayer

About the author: Jason Feimster

Jason is an early-stage investor, entrepreneur, and Marine. He believes in entrepreneurship and its ability to improve the human condition. Jason is dedicated to serving entrepreneurs with angel investing and venture capital.

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