To move an idea from ideation to reality, here is a model to take you through the process.
Start with a dream.
This is the ideation phase. Dream about what all is possible with your idea. Don’t put any restrictions on it. Think in possibilities and opportunities. No devil’s advocate needed at this point.
As you explore the expanse of the idea consider it from both sides. Any successful business aligns two sides, a success formula if you will.
Side One: “I want…”
This is the lens most entrepreneurs I meet start exploring an idea. “I want” reflects your passion for an idea. It motivates you. It reflects what is important to you.
Side Two: “The Market needs…”
This side is often overlooked. What problem is the market needing solved? What’s the demand for solving that problem? How big of a problem is it? How is it being currently addressed?
You don’t want to create a solution looking for a problem with which to solve. That’s not a good place to be. And it can get expensive.
When you align your “I want” with “The Market needs”, your chance for success goes up.
The trap to watch out for at the Dreaming level is that it feels really good at this level. You can’t make mistakes at this point. It’s a safe spot. No reality check exists here so anything is possible. Take the leap from the dream to the next phase.
Plan for success.
A dream is a great starting point. Yet it must be followed up with planning. This is the shift from the creative to the practical. This is the time to put pencil to paper. To add sequence. To add constraints. To evaluate the available resources. Competitors.
Note there are no perfect plans. These are just hypothesis. Some assumptions that need to be tested.
A trap to watch out for here is to not get stuck in the planning and researching phase. Ever heard the phrase “paralysis by analysis”?
There will always be a better way, more planning to do, more research to explore, but at some point you have to take a step.
Step into action.
Nothing ever happens until an action is taken. You can do the dreaming and planning without ever telling a soul. The idea or plan doesn’t come into existence until an action is taken. As Seth Godin calls it “shipping”. A product, a service, that which was created has to get delivered. Someone must consume it in some way. Derive some value from it. Action makes it real.
A trap to watch out here is to not rush into action. Skipping on ideation and planning can become costly at the action level. This is where real costs of delivering start kicking in.
This is what makes the next phase so important.
Refine as needed.
Look. Listen. Learn. Ask. Review. Question. Assess. Synthesize. It’s all about feedback here. Did you deliver what the market wanted? Talk to customers. Question your assumptions. Make tweaks to your offering. Take it back to the market. Repeat and refine as needed.
The trap to watch out here is to not be afraid of asking the tough questions. Challenge deeply held beliefs and assumptions. Fearing the feeling of failure.
As you consider a new or existing business idea, go through the steps above to ensure you are flowing through each one all the while giving careful consideration to each one.