QUIZ: Is Your Idea Worth Millions?

I have a certain friend who called me again a while back, all excited about his latest revelation. “What if you could go to a website and find all the recipes you could make today, with just the ingredients you already have in your kitchen? I’m going to start a website to offer this service!”

I’m sure you all realise that there could be quite a distance between a great idea and a great startup. But many people don’t have a clue on how to bridge the gap. So, trying carefully not to rain on his parade, I suggested to my friend that he complete the following analysis as due diligence on the idea before spending his life savings (and others) to roll out a solution.

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I’m sure that many of you could add additional “idea due diligence” items, from bitter experience, that I’ve neglected to mention. By the way, if team experience and resources are the only limitation, it is better to give your idea away to a qualified group, rather than selfishly sit on it, or run it and yourself into the ground trying to make it work. Nobody wins with that approach.

In case you are wondering what happened to this recipe idea, try the search I suggested and you will find a dozen sites that already claim this capability. Needless to say, after I did the work, my friend decided to quit talking about this one.

But he will be back, he always is, and one of these days he may find an idea that someone can make a reality. It won’t happen for him, because just talking about an idea doesn’t start any business. Am I the only one with a friend like that?

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This post originally appeared at Startup Professional Musings.

1. Competitors are few

2. No known patents filed

Maybe the solution hasn't yet been commercialized, but a patent has been submitted by someone else, putting your idea in jeopardy. Another series of searches on Google Patents and the US Patent Office site and Free Patents Online is in order at this point. Of course, you could pay a Patent Attorney a few thousand dollars to do the same search.

3. Large and growing market

4. Real customer pain and money

5. Whole solution viability

5. Motivated and qualified team is ready

The most critical step is to decide if you really have the passion, experience, and team for creating this solution and business. Startups are tough on even the most dedicated and passionate founders -- others will likely fail, and definitely be unhappy. No idea is worth that.

If your idea passed, start planning your company's future...

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