🏆 Is your idea worth pursuing?

This is part two of my six-part series on of how to start a digital business in 2024. The main question I will answer today is: Is this a good idea for YOU?

🤟🏻 Hey! It is Karin here. Welcome to my ✨ newsletter ✨. This is the place where I humbly tackle topics around product, business, personal finance and spirituality. Subscribe today to get each and every issue.

Welcome to part two of my six-part series on of how to start a digital business in 2024.

If you’re just joining me, here are links to previous posts, and a sense of what’s ahead:

Step 1: Welcome an idea - On gaining an insight

Step 2: Audit your idea. On figuring out if you have an idea worth pursuing? --> this part

Step 3: Find your audience. On how to identify your who and building empathy

Step 4: Prototype. On how to validate your solution and nail a value proposition

Step 5: Resonance - On finding the message that resonates with your audience

Step 6: Retain - On keeping users around

The main question I will answer today is:

Is this a good idea for YOU?

Let's get right down to it.

Artist meeting the work of art

By now you have an idea that sparks fire within you.

It is time to evaluate if it is good enough for YOU.

Founder-idea fit

There are no ideas in the void. The quality of the idea can only be assessed relative to you, the team bringing it to life.

Are you the right team (person) to bring this idea to the world? Do you have founder-idea fit?

This fit has essentially two aspects.

On the one hand side, the skill match. At the start you should only consider ideas that you would be good at executing based on your skill set. Do you have the skills needed to bring this to life? If you don't or you are too war away, pick another one.

On the other hand, the motivation. A start-up only really dies when the founder gives up. A strong interest from you - the founder- in the topic diminishes this from happening.

Ask yourself: can you sustain your interest in the idea and the field for the upcoming 5 to 10 years? Do you have a particular insight thanks to your life experiences?

The very best startup ideas tend to have three things in common:
- they're something founders themselves want
- that they themselves can build,
- and that few others realise are worth doing

-- Paul Graham

If you have clarity here, I want you to dive into exploring how much you really want to make this true. Ask yourself:

  • How strong is the commitment to the audience I want to serve?
  • Do I want to be associated with them?

Challenge your desire to serve them for the long run. This is a long term journey and you will need to manage not only your time but your energy. Will this fire you up for the long run?

I find that a good proxy is to ask myself: Would I want to do this even if it fails?

Here are further questions to ask yourself:

  • Does it feel like play?
  • Do I love the problem?
  • Do I love the customer?
  • Does it align with your values and with your vision?

You are building a product and not a hobby. So you should have at least a hypothesis about how you are going to distribute the product. How will you bring it to the clients? How will they find it?

Positive answers to these questions increase your likelihood of shipping fast.

How big is the market?

Pick an idea that has a big market.

When I say big, I mean either already big now or small now but rapidly growing. And big in terms of revenue potential. This increases the likelihood that your share of the market will be sufficient to sustain your business.

Do not confuse this with making a product for everyone. Your product should be niched down and specific for a very concrete audience.

Is your product a vitamin or a pain killer?

Pain killers are products that are easier to market because customers are higher in the awareness pyramid and have clear, urgent needs. They are aware of their problem and are looking for a solution.

Vitamin products enhance the customer situation but are not essential. The benefits, while real, are less immediate and may be harder to quantify. They might require more marketing and persuasion efforts because you first need to convince the customer of the problem. These customers are lower in the awareness pyramid.

Both types of products are valuable. You just need to be aware of the different marketing and sales approaches. In terms of product, pain killers need to deliver significant and immediate value. While for vitamins, the traction might lower at the beginning but customers might be more forgiving.

Do you have competition?

Counterintuitively, if the answer is YES, this is a great thing!

While our initial reaction might be “Argh, I am too late!”. It might mean that someone has already validated this idea by finding people to pay for something similar. Then you just need a different plate to serve the same thing. Sometimes that makes all the difference.

Do YOU want this?

Yes, YOU personally. Would you use your product? Do you know people who would personally want this?

If the answer is no, drop the pen and go out of the building. Make sure you talk to your audience to find someone who wants this.

Otherwise, well….

Are there similar products in other regions?

Similar to the competition question above this shows that this or a very similar idea has been validated elsewhere. If folks find something similar useful elsewhere, people in another geography (yours) might find it useful as well.

Are you operating in a “good idea space”?

The “good idea space” is a concept of YCombinator. You can think of an idea space as a set of ideas that are similar and serve the same audience. It is smaller than a sector but broader than a niche. For example, the food-delivery space (in the delivery sector) or the FinTech infastructure space. This concept is helpful in clustering ideas.

Idea spaces vary in their hit ratio (the likelihood of really making it). For example, in the previous decade, the space of FinTech infrastructure had more hits than the space of AdTech. Keep this in mind when selecting an idea so that you land in a plot that is fertile.

Operating from a well-chosen idea space increases your likelihood of scoring a hit. Most importantly, even if a concrete idea doesn't succeed immediately in that space, by swimming in this fertile pond you are indirectly shopping for adjacent ideas that might work out.

There’s no way of truly knowing if your idea will work. And even though many really good ideas fail, the more of the previous elements your idea has, the more likely it is to succeed.

What to do if you established you have a good idea?

You get to work, my dear! By:

  1. Prototyping it cheaply to validate.
  2. While doing so, talk to A LOT of potential customers
  3. By now you have an idea that sparks fire within you.

It is time to evaluate if it is good enough for YOU. you are building it for

Notice that finding an audience is a process. You should really keep it open and learn for whom does this offering resonates the most.

THIS is going to be the focus of the next issue.

Next week: 👻 Find your audience. On identifying your who and building empathy

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