Creating a New Business – Part 2

December 21st, 2009 by Shaun McNerney Leave a reply »

Note: This is Part 2 of a 3 part seriesPart 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

One of the hardest things to do is to come up with a compelling idea for a new technology business. Here is the process I use to help uncover hidden opportunities.

  1. Identify Fundamentals
    • Asset or Baby Business
    • Product or Service
    • Better-Faster-Cheaper or Brave New World
  2. Collect Ideas
    • You
    • Your Company
    • Customers
    • Emerging Trends
  3. Fail Fast
    • Prototype The Business
    • Test The Market
    • Time – The Most Precious Resource

Collect Ideas

When it comes to new business ideas, you want to collect as many as possible. When you are collecting, there is no such thing as a bad idea.

Ideas come from many places – you, your work, customers, and from emerging trends.

I write down all of the business ideas that I come across. I sort them into one of three categories: Need, Want, and Other. I then explore only the “Need” ideas.

Tip: When collecting new technology business ideas, try to match them to one of the Gartner categories or IDC market areas. This helps to define what you’re offering, establishes the market opportunity, and identifies competitors.

You

Some of the best ideas come from a problem that you experience personally. Back in 1997, I needed to capture audio recordings (meetings) and post them on a web site. This problem turned into a business – TellSoft.

The problem with ideas that come from you is that you might be the only one that cares about the problem. Your might be the only customer buying.

Your Company

Great ideas are born when your company has a problem. A company that I worked for was having problems sending large, confidential files between office locations. The idea for Bit Weld, my current business, was born from that problem.

Businesses make great customers. If the problem is critical to their business, some companies will pay for a solution before it is built (a great way to finance your new business).

Note: Be extremely careful if you are working on a new business idea inspired by your current employer. The idea may not be yours to pursue.

Customers

Networking with customers and partners is a great way of collecting new business ideas. Here are some questions to ask your customers and partners:

  • What are your top 3 problems?
  • How are you addressing them?
  • What is the impact to the business if they are/are not addressed?
  • How can I help?

Remember to listen to the customer and to capture the problem as accurately as possible. Each problem has the potential to translate into a new business idea.

Emerging Trends

New business ideas can be cultivated by observing emerging social and business trends. This requires a combination of vision, imagination, and business sense.

If you are the first to sign up for new online services, first to buy new technology then you might be able to cultivate new ideas from emerging trends. If you’re not an early adopter, then you should focus on getting ideas from you, your company, and customers.

Continued …


Shaun McNerney

Note: This is Part 2 of a 3 part seriesPart 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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2 comments

  1. shaun says:

    Laura,

    When evaluating business ideas as either Need, Want, or Other I look at it from the customer’s perspective.

    Let’s assume for a particular business idea that you are the customer. You “Need” water. You “Want” a high-def big screen TV.

    The big difference between “Need” and “Want” is that “Want” is optional (you can live without it). “Other” is everything else.

    By focusing only on “Need” business ideas you can increase your odds of success.

    I hope that helps.

    Shaun McNerney

  2. Laura Hansen says:

    Shaun, loved your article. Want to clarify on the categorization of Business Ideas, Need, want, other. Does this mean your personal need/want or based on the elevator interviews?

    I would love to see something on identifying progress blocks and/or “getting past the fear”

    -Laura