Thursday, July 14, 2011

Is your business idea ready to be launched?

This post was originally published in the Lakewood Observer.

Often times, it is easy to come up with a great business idea. The hard part is actually coming up with a plan to turn the idea into a viable business and executing the plan strategically.
But how do you know when it is the right time to take your idea to the next level? After all, creating a viable business is no quick and easy task. It makes sense to ensure that your idea is indeed viable before making the leap to starting a business.
Validating a business idea is an essential, and yet overlooked, component to the entrepreneurial process. While many established companies spend millions of dollars and countless months validating concepts, the following suggestions are simple and inexpensive, yet effective, ways that you can validate your business idea:
Talk to your future customers: Understanding the real pain point of the customers you wish to serve is critical. Even more importantly, find out how real this pain is and how badly your future customers wish to solve this pain. Ask yourself if you can develop a solution that is better than how they currently solve this problem.
Get Data: Become an expert in as many facets as you can in the subject matter your potential business relates to. Read trade journals. Find research reports. If this sounds expensive, remember that many of these materials can be found online or through your local public library for free.
Use Tools: There are a myriad of cheap, and even free, tools available to help entrepreneurs validate business ideas:
  • allows you to quickly create professional online surveys.
  • allows you to specify demographics and survey questions and will quickly find respondents.
  • allows you create a custom-branded splash page so you can collect data on whether consumers are interested in your idea.
  • ReferenceUSA allows you to learn more about the industry you are targeting. You can access certain data sets for free by using your library card at most public libraries.

Learn more about validating your business at the next Startup U event, presented by Startup Lakewood. Joe Haddad and Nick Dadas, Co-Founders of University Tee’s, will be on hand to discuss other strategies that entrepreneurs can use to validate business ideas. This event will take place on Tuesday, July 26 at 6:30 pm at the Lakewood Public Library Main Auditorium and is free and open to the public.
More information on this event and Startup Lakewood can be found at

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Prototype Day

Earlier today, my partner, Bryan, and I had the opportunity to present a prototype of the product we've begun developing to a crowd of about 45 10x Xelerator mentors, entrepreneurs, investors, and the like.  The feedback was great.  While everybody was certainly positive about the business we're building, one thing was apparent.

We have a lot of work to do.

I don't mean that as a dig on us.  I actually think we positioned ourselves quite well.  Even still, it was apparent that all of the 10x teams have a lot of work to do if we all plan on building and growing sustainable businesses.  It's just the reality of a startup.  It's not about writing 10,000 lines of code.  It's not just about finding a couple of bizdev deals to close.  It's not about choosing a couple of buzzwordy marketing methods to toy with.

It's about the whole package.  Putting it all together.  Taking a great idea that solves a real problem, wrapping a sound business model around it, getting feedback from customers, and just flipping doing it.  Good ol' fashioned execution.

Time to roll the sleeves up...