By Rhonda Campbell
Have you ever had one or more creative business ideas that you thought would generate millions of dollars? You might have convinced yourself that generations of people would love your creative business ideas as much as you. It’s such an easy temptation to fall into. After all, it is ideas that trigger the creation of products and services (think iPhone, iPod and Facebook) that make entrepreneurs incredibly wealthy.
However, if you’ve been operating your own business for several years, you know firsthand that not all business ideas turn out to be great. It’s this lesson that contestants on the television show, Shark Tank, learn week after week.
Standing Before Sharks to Test Hot Creative Business Ideas
On Shark Tank, young entrepreneurs (pre-teens and teens) as well as adults stand before established business owners like billionaire Mark Cuban (he owns the NBA Dallas Mavericks), Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner and Barbara Corcoran. They present their creative business ideas, passionately demonstrating their belief in their ideas.
At times, it can be nerve wrecking watching hopeful solopreneurs (especially solopreneurs who have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into their cool business ideas) present budget, marketing and licensing details to the panel of hardened business owners. It’s this “edge-of-your-seat” sensation that makes Shark Tank popular. In fact, not only has Shark Tank gotten the attention of television viewers, it’s also caught the attention of some media outlets. U.S. News and World Report is one of those media outlets.
Early in the November 29, 2012 “Mark Cuban and Other Sharks on What Makes a Hot Business Idea” U.S. News and World Report article, the endless optimism that entrepreneurs possess is referenced. In fact, it was the chance to spend time with a group of eternal optimists (aka entrepreneurs) that gave the article’s writer, Rick Newman, a positive shot in the arm.
Newman says, “Hanging out with entrepreneurs is a welcome antidote to the gloom that pervades much of the economy these days, since they tend to have an infectious optimism, no matter the unemployment rate or the direction of the stock market.” Optimism is good; however, could too much of it be blinding? Could too much optimism give way to delusion?
Avoiding the Trap of Delusion as the Creator of Cool Business Ideas
Let delusion enter an entrepreneur’s mind and, to that entrepreneur, every idea that surfaces in her thoughts looks hot, deceiving an entrepreneur into believing that her cool business ideas will automatically gain millions of backers. When this doesn’t happen, a self-deceived entrepreneur could lose thousands, possibly millions of dollars. It’s a high price to pay for a dream.
That’s why it’s important to test creative business ideas before you start spending time and money to implement the ideas. To find out whether or not your cool business ideas are truly hot, following are a few steps you could take:
- Organize a meeting with six or more people who have several years of small business ownership experience. Share your small business idea with them. As happens on Shark Tank, ask these small business owners if they would be willing to give you several thousand dollars to turn the small business idea into a product or service.
- Create a sample product of your small business idea. Give away free samples to people online or offline under the condition that the people fill out a survey, letting you know their thoughts and feelings about the product in detail. (Be prepared to accept whatever feedback you receive.)
- Research similar products, measuring how they performed on the market. Also, take note as to whether or not the products’ sells are rising or declining. (Consider working with an experienced market research specialist to research the market, including the target audience.)
If your goal is to take your small business ideas from small to large markets, it’s a good idea to measure the scalability of your new product and/or service ideas. As noted in the U.S. News and World Report article, “A product that’s popular among a small band of enthusiasts won’t necessarily be a mass-market hit.”
Should your creative business ideas be “truly” hot, you’re going to have to manage cash flows, inventory and shipping and handling efficiently, well enough to keep up with the mounting orders you receive. You’re also going to have to manage a growing workforce in order to keep up with the growing demands your popular products and/or services create. It’s a good challenge to have, but one you need to be prepared for.
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http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2012/11/29/mark-cuban-and-other-sharks-reveal-what-makes-a-hot-business-idea (U.S. News and World Report: Mark Cuban and Other Sharks on What Makes a Hot Business Idea)