Ask Mike: I have many ideas for new businesses – which one should I choose?

The entrepreneurial process often starts with some friends in a pub or restaurant, putting down their various ideas on a beer mat or napkin. This creative process invariably generates too many ideas; the challenge is to determine which one will turn into an profitable and enjoyable businesses.

My advice is always to pick something that you are genuinely passionate about, not just one that you think will make a pile of money. For example, there is certainly a fortune to be made in property, but only if you are an expert builder or persuasive estate agent and also have a genuine ability to determine which properties will gain value over time.

The difference between good ideas and poor ones centres on your ability to generate revenue quickly. The place to start looking for customers is amongst your friends and people in your local area, ideally finding those that are ‘money rich and time poor.’

In the early stages of a business it is always much simpler to sell a service than a product. The classic entrepreneur’s motivation should be ‘where’s the pain?’ If you can spend a day or so solving a particular problem you should be able to get your friends to pay you for that service. You might even be able to get an up-front deposit, thus boot-strapping your business.

The skills for charming money from people are different to those needed to successfully deliver a product or service. This is why many successful entrepreneurship teams initially involve two people, an introvert and an extrovert.

These two different people are able to provide the two classic prerequisites for a successful business idea: can you deliver a useful product or service and will anyone pay you for the privilege?

Before you invest too much time or effort in the idea you should you ask the advice of a mentor to help decide which of your ideas has the most potential. They can provide invaluable advice in the viability of your idea and might even suggest people from their own network who might be willing to be your first customer.

Mike Southon

About Mike Southon

Mike Southon is a serially successful entrepreneur, best-selling business author, mentor and one of the world’s top business speakers on entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and sales.

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