It may pop into your head at the lights on the way to work. You may muse on it after you nurse your second coffee of the day, or when you are downing the 4th cocktail of the night. However that glinting hint of a business idea chooses to haunt you, the fact is that no amount of simply pondering it will make it real.
So what exactly do you do now?
This topic is unsurprisingly one that gets thrown our way a fair bit, and one we often hear residents, experts, and event attendees talking about too. So, before your business idea makes you mortgage your house, or write the kind of resignation letter that will go viral I have six tips to help you get started.
If I had a penny for every time, I heard someone pitch a 'new' idea that is, in fact, being done pretty well already I would have heaps of out-dated, useless currency. 'Not new' is not always a bad thing, after all, Casey Eden from Neighbourly waxes lyrical about the benefit of taking an existing idea working overseas and localising it. Either way, if you feel you have the next big thing then having a Google first is a pretty good idea.
Apply the sort of logic you would use when attempting to find info on a potential Tinder date - dig deep, read everything and ask yourself "Can I do better?"
When looking around at the playing field try to find companies that are already doing your idea - and then ask how well they are doing it. How many customers do they have? Is their social full of complaints? Is their website annoying or confusing? If someone is doing part of your idea, look at how they are executing it, and weasel out any lessons you can. Dig out details on investors, read their press to find out what their future plans are and then ponder - "could I do this better than they are?"
That my friend will form part of your point of difference.
Before you do, listen to those that have done. Check out events at your local startup hot spots. Head to Startup Grind, a Collider event or meetup and listen to the experiences of people that are where you want to be.
Listen to what they have to say and ask yourself will this lifestyle work for you. Are there things you can learn before you get going? Or simply ask yourself are you prepared to do the things that others have done to get where they need to go? At a recent GridAKL event, BizDojo Auckland resident and Haptly Co-Founder Rab Heath spoke about how he slept in his car on the roof of GridAKL when he moved to Auckland to get involved in the startup scene here. At a recent Coffee & Cream event, the founder of Moustache Milk & Cookie Bar told the room how she worked three jobs to get the capital to get her business off the ground.
Last year I watched the co-founder of BizDojo residents Weirdly dish out her top three startup tips. Number two was pitch to everyone. Dale's advice is the exact sort thing that sounds simple and entirely practical, but like flossing or pre-washing your white shirts - few do it.
Pitch your idea to your mum, your dog, your grandma, your best friend who is really honest with you even when it hurts a bit. Give them your best 2-minute pitch and see what they think. Do they get it? Do they see the benefit? Do they get excited? Do they believe it is the stupidest thing you have ever said (and they were friends with you in high school)? Take all the feedback and use that to hone your idea to make it better, faster, stronger. Or face the reality that maybe 'Uber for soap dishes' is not the hot unicorn business you thought it was.
I could write a few quippy sentences on this one but in reality, others have already written on the topic extensively. What I will say, is that I have heard the phrase "We validated the idea before we started..kinda" uttered by many people that are mid pivot/making some hard choices/backtracking on decisions they have made early on - upon discovering assumptions they made in the early days were indeed assumptions.
Smart people writing on validation:
When in doubt - throw yourself in
Please do not read this as my tacit approval of your desire to sell your house and your car to fund your "AirBnb for cat dwellings", but what I will say is that getting a taste of startup before you go all in is a good idea. Thankfully the guys from Startup Weekend make this relatively easy. Sign up for the weekend and get the chance to pitch an idea to the group, be part of a team and ideate, validate and prototype a startup in a weekend. The perfect way to try the rollercoaster before committing to a life of riding it!
A daughter of two serial entrepreneurs, and fond of dabbling in business herself - Anya wrangles Brand & Communications for BizDojo with an emphasis on GridAKL. Have a question for her? Reach out to her on Twitter.