Top 10 Test to Ensure that Your Idea is Worthy

By | April 3, 2007

It is great that you have a business/product idea that you are sure will sell like wildfire once you build it. However do take a step back and see if it passes the 10 tests below?

1. Innovation

To come up with an innovative product means that you will have less competition and that your product will solve the current problem in a better way. It is important that your product is innovative. Having a non-innovative product dooms you from the start as you compete in a market place where there are already companies who have more experience that you. Never bring in a product that is not innovative

2. Size

How big is your market? Big is not necessary better. Big markets usually mean that there are already well entrenched companies who will furiously defend their market share from you. Choose a small market if you are a startup. With a small market, you will be able to conquer the market with your limited resources. Being number 1 in a small market is much better than number 3494 in a large market. If you find your product in a large market, try to customize your product so that it targets a niche market. A niche market is a market that is big enough for you yet small enough so that the incumbents will not bother with you. For example, the Food market is a very big one, but organic food was once a niche market. But it has grown and now whole foods, one of the earlier entrants, is dominating the market with its expertise and brand built over time. This brings us to the next point of market growth.

3. Growth

Other than market size, you should be looking the predicted growth rate of the market. Usually as market start to grow, media attention will focus on it . Attention, demand and competition will grow with the market. If you can get yourself into the market first and dominate the market, you will be able to share a larger pie of the growth.

4. Timing


Market timing is important. Markets can be unready to accept new products. i.e. I just listened to an interview with the person whom invented the folding keyboard. He invented and licensed the technology in year 2001. However at that time, there were a limited number of portable devices that actually needed the keyboard. The product was ahead of its time. If the foldable keyboard had launched in the past 2 years or so, it would have much higher sales numbers. This is the reason why looking at trends that point to your product is important as they give you a sense if the market is ready for your product.
5. Customer Demand
The market size gives you the number of people who might be interested in your product. But for a product to succeed there must be concrete demand from customers. A good way is to conduct surveys to gauge demand.
Customer might also be oblivious to their demands. In these cases, surveys might not be helpful. You can instead use personal observation and insight to determine if customers need your product. In cases where a product’s benefit is not obvious, you will have to do much extra work in convincing that they need your product. An example of these is the coaching industry. The benefits are not exceedingly obvious as the benefit that participant gets is not quantifiable. Companies are then not willing to pay for the courses as they are unable to justify the cost of the program. Thus trainers have to use industry networks to spread their brand and increase the need for their expertise.
6. Acceptability/change in habits

Sometimes, a product is so revolutionary that it completely outclasses the current solution. However it doesn’t make inroads into the market. This can be due to that customers are already entrenched in their habits and changing the habits of customers is a very difficult thing to do. An example would be switching from using hotmail to gmail. Hotmail is a terrible email client compared to gmail. However users want the email address so badly that they will not bother to switch no matter how superior gmail is.

7. Who benefits?

Is your product going to be paid for by one party but benefits another instead? If it does, it is going to be a hard sell. An example would be the parent child relationship. Kids benefit from toys but the parents are the ones spending the money. Unbalanced relationships like this require a lot of marketing to change the mindset of the payee as the motivation structure of the payee and benefitted are usually not aligned. Companies might not be willing to buy ergonomic furniture of employees as they are not sure of the benefit. However a report that highlights the increased productivity will help to sell the product.

8. Scalability

Is your product easily recreated so that you can sell more of it to more customers? If it is not, you should be aware that you have to charge a high price for each of the product to make your effort worthwhile. An example would be the masterpieces created by an artisan. The products being work of art are not duplicable as each product is unique by itself. If your product revolves around you, you will have a hard time getting the product to more customers. On the other end of the spectrum, software is infinitely duplicable. Through the internet, software can spread virally and conquer the market in a few short months. Where your product lie determine how fast you can conquer the market.

9. Feasibility

Most of the products require some sort of expertise or else there would be many companies selling the product already. The important question is whether you have the expertise to create this product. I am assuming that you have some part since you already came up with an idea. However to get detailed technical expertise to actually build a prototype requires more investment and bringing in of technical expertise. You can do this by reaching out to professionals or students who have some sort of expertise. If your product is too technically advanced, I suggest in reducing the way the technology is used and substitute it with something more achievable.

10. Your own belief


If your idea did badly in one of the points above, do not be disheartened. Most sections can be improved by tweaking your product a little or waiting till the time is right. If you believe strongly in your idea, start working on it. Solutions will appear as you work on them.

I hope I have given you some though on whether your idea is worth spending time on. Sometimes as inventors, we get too caught up in the excitement and forget that most ideas fail. Hopefully by considering the points above, you can increase the odds of success.

This is Part 2 of Top 10 Startup List. Part 1 is at

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