Friday, April 22, 2016

A formula to tell if your idea is good: for Engineers & logical thinkers.

Is your idea good?  This comes up in a ton of contexts, from entrepreneurship and startups to brainstorms and even into big companies and small projects.   Even if you are just coding up something, you are usually working from an idea.

Wouldn't it be nice to know if your idea is good, perhaps even BEFORE you've tried it?

The following logical flowchart is designed with that in mind.  Enjoy!

Step 1: Do you think your idea is good?
IF YES: Proceed to next step.
IF NO: STOP!  BAD IDEA!

Step 2: Do others think your idea is good?
IF YES: Proceed to next step.
IF NOT: STOP!  MEET with those others and talk through what's not good about it, improve it, then go back to Step 1!

Step 3: Will your idea take less than 1 day to build and test?
IF YES:  GOOD IDEA!  Build and test it!   It's almost always worth it to test an idea you think is good, and get the results of the test.
IF NO: Proceed to next step.

Step 4: Can you build a "fake version" of your idea in less than 1 day and test it?
IF YES:  GOOD IDEA!  Build and test it!   It's almost always worth it to test an idea you think is good, and get the results of the test.
IF NO: Proceed to next step.

Step 5: Can you build a "REAL or fake version" of your idea in less than 1 day and then test it in less than 1 week?
IF YES:  GOOD IDEA!  Build and test it!   It's almost always worth it to test an idea you think is good, and get the results of the test.  Sometimes the testing takes longer (like an A/B experiment requires time to gather data).  Still, worth it!
IF NO: Proceed.

Step 5: Is there a way to measure if your idea is good?
IF YES:  Proceed.
IF NO: Rethink the idea to include a way to measure if it's good or not, then go to Step 1.

Step 6: Work hard to see if you can build it faster in a way that can get you 'measurable results' if your idea is good or not....   and then build it and measure it.

That's it!

I know maybe you were thinking there is some algorithm to "actually" tell you if your idea is good or not... newsflash, it cannot exist.  What can exist though is a new kind of thinking: think measurement first!  If you can't tell if your idea is good or not (by some measure) then why even ask the question?

No go out there and Measure!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Solving the full problem by focusing on the target market

Got an idea for a startup? Great!  Now, tell me, what problem does it solve?

Well, if you are having trouble articulating that, or, if you want to improve your chances of succeeding... Read on!

So many ideas solve nobody's problem.  And so many ideas solve a problem only partly; or barely.

If you want to succeed in: your Kickstarter, your indiegogo, your launch, your business - you need to be thinking - what is the full problem!

Here are 3 tips to help you think about the problem you are solving.
1. Target market!  -  really try to narrow down on whom is the target market!  Gender, age, and psychographics!   As specific as possible.  Remember, nothing can solve everyone's problem, but something can solve someone's problem completely and make them very happy!
2. Think solve problem, not your idea.  Probably your great idea helps solve the problem, but most likely you can add 2 or 3 components (even if it's just documentation) to really completely solve the problem.
3. Cut out anything that is not truly necessary to solve the problem for the specific target market you have in mind!

Now, get out and solve something!

Defining Entrepreneurship and Startup

This is a call for a more universally agreed  on definition of entrepreneurship, startup and small business.

My proposal is simple:

Startup - a new business of any kind (big, small, or entrepeurial)

Entrepreneurship - the study of "novel" businesses which has the opportunity to "grow big"

Entrepreneur - a person who has founded or cofounded a "novel" startup which could or did "grow big".

Small Business - a private non-novel business, with a known risk/reward profile based on prior businesses of that type.

Discuss...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Lean Startup Toilet Bowl Trap of Getting Nowhere Slowly

Progress.  That's a nice word.  "We're making progress...", says the workers cutting the road through the forest.   Then, a wise leader climbs a tree and says "but you're going the wrong way!"

That's all fine and good, and a good lean startup does this often.  It's called "Pivot" and it's central to the Lean Startup concept.  But what happens when you just keep pivoting?  Aren't you chasing your tail?  Suddenly, you have a road to nowhere, or worse, a road that goes in circles.

This is a TRAP!  Your "lean startup" just got into a slowly dieing spiral of doom.  Your dream is getting flushed in the toilet because you keep climbing that tree and realizing that you're going the wrong way!

Here's an example of the Lean Startup in the Toilet Bowl Trap:

  1. You build a website and collect some preorders (yeah, progress!)
  2. You ship the preorders and get feedback from customers that they love/hate certain features (yeah, progress!)
  3. You fix the product based on the feedback, and nobody buys it (yeah, progress!)
  4. You PIVOT to a new product and collect some preorders (yeah, progress!)
  5. Jump to step #2, repeat, all the way to the toilet's flush.


So, how do you get out of this toilet bowl trap?

First, remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting different results.

You have to do something different!

In many cases, the problem is not 'your product' or 'your idea', but the marketing instead!

Instead of constantly pivoting on "product" you might need to pivot on some of the other 4 P's of Marketing:

  1. Place: Maybe your lack of orders is because it's not available where the customers are... and particularly where the customers are that are in the buying mood for what you offer!
  2. Price: Maybe your lack of orders is related to the pricing or pricing structure of your product.  Maybe you need to sell it in parts, or with different options.  It could even be too low!
  3. Promotion: Maybe your lack of orders is related to how you are attracting customers.  Sure, you're getting a lot of 'views', but are those customers: the right ones, in the right mood (buying), with the right goals, with the right problems, with enough education about your solution, etc.?  Or Maybe, your just not reaching your right audience, or just not 'appealing' enough to their needs (messaging).
So, avoid the Toilet Bowl Trap: run Lean Startup Experiments on more than just 'the product'...

Enjoy!

Followers