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So You Have a GREAT Idea! Now What?

From The Bright Ideas Bulletin, Aug 18, 2000

So you've come up with a snazzy idea that's sure to put money in the bank, eh? So what are you going to do about it? What's your next step?

Most people do one of two things:

*They jump on the bandwagon before they know how to play, or

*They talk the subject to death, research it to death, make tons of notes--and do nothing.

Either way, they end up frustrated.

I know people who fall into both categories. You probably do, too. In fact, you may be one of these people. I was.

So how can you break out of this aggravating pattern and put yourself on the path to success?

Here are a couple of suggestions:


Take a little time to see if your idea will fly. Now I'm not talking about a full scale investigation that takes months or years to complete. Instead, spend a few hours on the Internet, scanning the search engines for relevant sites and posting a few questions in appropriate newsgroups (Has anybody done "x"? Where could I find more information on "z"?).

Put in some library time and look for resources at your favorite bookstore (either online or off). You're looking to see if you have a ready target market, and if they're already buying products and services similar to what you're offering.

Why? Because chances are they'll buy more of the same. If white widgets are all the rage and have been for months, chances are black, blue, or red widgets might make money as well. If no one's buying widgets at all, stop. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Look elsewhere. Don't waste time, money, and energy developing and trying to sell something no one wants.

"But I'll be the first one on the block," you might be thinking. "I'll capture the market and make millions!"

Yes, I suppose there's always that possibility. But don't bet the farm on it.

While it is true that stories like that happen every once in a while, more often than not they come about by accident rather than design.

Silly Putty and Aspartame (NutraSweet) were born from lab experiments gone awry, and the Yahoo! directory started as a list of favorite web sites by two Stanford University technophiles.

But many of the original ground breaking ideas that are common place today have very unglamorous and un-newsworthy histories of long hours, near bankruptcy, public disinterest and divorce. Such sordid tales are behind the Xerox machine, the typewriter, deodorant, and McDonald's.

While persistence finally paid in each of these examples, you know there are hundreds of other casualties whose ideasnever came to fruition.

Don't try the hardest thing first. Mimic what's already working, and get some success under your belt. You can always go back later and try the hard sell when your "tried-and-true" idea takes off and you don't have anything better to do with your time and money...

If your idea looks viable, proceed to the next step. If not, find another idea and put it under your feasibility microscope.


Now you need to figure out how to go from idea to money in the bank. The best way to do this is by creating a business plan.

Now don't be put off by the name. If you take the time to think through everything you'll need to get from point A to point B, you'll have both your "to do" list and your game plan by the time you're ready to get started.

A business plan looks at things like:

*Licensing requirements
*Legal entity
*Hiring employees
*Scrutinizing the competition
*Your marketing plan
*Your funding requirements

In short, it forces you to take a big picture view of your business-which is really great, if you don't have a business background. You'll know what parts you can do, what parts you'll need help with, and an estimate of how much it's going to cost.

If you're thinking about approaching a bank or investors for money, you'll need a business plan to share with them. Other parties along the line might require a copy as well. I read recently that in Silicon Valley, with so many dot.coms folding, that landlords are requiring business plans from anyone trying to lease startup space.

Your accounting, spreadsheet, or word processing software may have come with a business plan template, so look there first. If it you don't have one, check out the Small Business Administration's version at or download a copy of BusinessPlan Pro,

So now you have your idea and your business plan. The next step?


There comes a point when you need to stop gathering data and start gathering sales.

Everything doesn't have to be perfect. Move forward. Learn. Try stuff. If something doesn't work, try something else. A little success brings a lot of confidence; all you have to do is get started.

To quote Nike, "Just Do It!"

So you've got a great idea! What do you do with it?

*See if anyone wants to buy it
*Make a plan
*Execute the plan

Follow these three steps-and you'll be in business!


Diana Pemberton-Sikes is the author of "10 Simple Ways To Boost Your Income", which features dozens of simple ways to start or expand a business using your EXISTING knowledge, skills, and interests. To learn more, visit her website,

Copyright © 2000 by Diana Pemberton-Sikes

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