As an entrepreneur, there is a myriad of ideas that come and go. Some you pursue with a fury, and others you let fizzle out like a flame. Putting your efforts into the right ideas can ensure you are using your resources to the greatest potential and allowing your business to naturally thrive. So, how do you know what ideas are really worth pursuing and which ones you should leave by the wayside?
A. Do Plenty of Market Research
If you want to find out if a business idea is viable, you need to do research to find out if there's a strong demand for this kind of product, service or business. Study businesses that are already doing it (or something comparable) and see what kind of response they're getting. If it's something really innovative where there's no competition, put out feelers by creating polls and asking questions. Ask people you know, as well as your followers on social media. The important thing is to listen to feedback and stay objective. Don't make the mistake of falling in love with your own ideas so you're blind to the flaws and limits. - Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
A. Evaluate It in a Vacuum
Ask yourself, "If this idea wasn't wasn't new or popular, would it still work for my business and my customers?" and "Is this just an idea that fell in my lap, or is this a solution to a problem that I would have been researching anyway?" If the only reason you can think of to pursue a new idea is that it's the newest thing on the block, then it won't be effective in the short or long term. Don't invent problems for yourself that didn't exist before. Make sure it makes objective business sense and that you'll be able to reliably get concrete results from it. - Roger Lee, Captain401
A. Get Plenty of Feedback
Entrepreneurs tend to have lots of ideas. Some are good, some aren't so good, but only a few are truly practical. You may not be the best judge of this, which is why you need to solicit feedback from as many sources as possible. You can do this informally with friends and colleagues, as well as by asking questions online in places such as forums, your blog and social media. If you want to know if there's a demand for a certain product or service, you want the opinions of people who represent your target market. If you think you have a solution, make sure that they consider it a real problem. Find out how satisfied they are with existing products that address this problem. This gives you some sense of whether your future customers like your idea as much as you do. - Shawn Porat, Scorely
A. Test the Idea as "Coming Soon"
Set up a landing page to market the idea as "coming soon." Add an email opt-in to the landing page. Spend a little money advertising the idea to the proper target market using Facebook Ads. See what type of opt-in rate you get, based on the people that visit the landing page. Do the metrics of the target market offer potential? Was the ad click-through rate solid? Did the traffic convert into opt-ins? Understanding those metrics and comparing those to past campaigns is a fairly easy way to vet an idea. - Shawn Schulze, HomeHealthCareAgencies.com
A. See If It Solves Your Problem
A lot of the companies that I started were formed from solving my own problems. For example, I started off blogging and wanted a way to get more email subscribers, so the idea for the exit-intent technology was born. My team and I like to develop products that we love and need ourselves first, so that we remain passionate about what we're selling. If you have a problem, the chances of others having the same problem are much higher. Not to mention that you will understand the market a lot more thoroughly if you're fixing your own problem. The marketing message will come more intuitively. I also like to find others like myself and ask them what they would pay to have their problem fixed to get a gauge about the potential profits. - Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster
A. Package It Unappealingly
It's very easy to misinterpret a bad idea as a good idea if it is presented in an appealing way. We, as humans, are susceptible to many biases that will get in the way of clear and logical thinking. Despite our best efforts, we still judge many books by their covers. When mulling over a potential idea, one way to accurately evaluate it and bypass this bias is to reimagine the form that it is presented to you. Imagine that the person trying to sell this idea to you is a sleazy car salesman or a raving homeless person on the street. If you can picture this concept being delivered to you by an unreliable, unappealing individual and still see merit in the idea, then that is a strong signifier that it is worth pursuing. - Bryce Welker, Beat The CPA
A. Just Try It!
Everyone knows the phrase, "don't knock it till you try it." If you are like me and are surrounded by a team you believe in, every idea is worth pursuing. However, all ideas must have a well thought-out reason and execution strategy to back them up. As marketers we all strive to hit the nail on the head the first time around, but we all know that is not the case the majority of the time. This is the reason why we perform A/B testing and have analytics platforms. So move forward with your ideas, monitor your results, optimize accordingly and if necessary, wipe the board clean and start over. You will never know how successful an idea can be if you never take a chance and pursue it. - Duran Inci, Optimum7
These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.