How to make it more likely your idea will pay off

What if your dream job is starting your own business?  How do you make it more likely your idea will pay off?  What steps can you take that make your idea have a path toward succeeding?

It used to be that to have your idea pay off you would need to:

  1. lease or build a warehouse, or building,
  2. purchase inventory,
  3. hire a staff, and
  4. buy big ads

And work for years to recover your initial investment and then move into profitability.

Today, you can start an idea with zero investment.  You can grab that sports memorabilia in your basement, put them on Craigslist  or eBay and launch a real business.  Or you can write an ebook, not even wait for a publisher, but put it on a self-publishing platform.

I’m excited about the cost and risk of starting an idea today – but I’m also seeing another side of that simplicity.   And that is that the “host of the idea” is not really committed to building in fundamental pieces that will make it more likely the idea will pay off.

I have taken the time to observe and research some of those fundamental pieces of the most new successful businesses. The goal is to build these into the very nature of the business itself. For example, the sticky notes people at Post it can’t do #4, because of the structure of retail distribution and the way they mass produce and can’t track who is buying what.

10 fundamental pieces that make it more likely your idea will pay off:

  1. Build in the social aspect. Does it work better when my friends use it to. Consider: Email, Groupon.
  2. Sell products that can’t be bought cheaper on Amazon.
  3. Try to create an environment where your customers are happier when there are other customers doing business with you (see #1).
  4. Treat different customers differently. Consider: American Express’s Centurion Card.
  5.  Build in the love aspect. Instead of trying to out-think the competition it’s worth trying to out-love them.
  6. Create remarkable experiences, not remarkable ads. Consider: Jet Blue
  7. Be transparent.
  8. Unless there’s a differentiating business reason, use off-the-shelf-software and the cloud  for storage.
  9. The asset of the future is the embrace your platform, not a cheaper app. The best people to fund your growth are your customers, fans, readers, and tribe.
  10. Create scarcity. Free samples create demand for the valuable,  but free samples shouldn’t be unlimited.