dt60717886 LGI’ve personally been a part of 14 startups and over 400 business turnarounds. I’ve been the Business Coach of hundreds of entrepreneurs who needed help in bringing their idea to fruition. They were of all sizes and shapes. Some had funding, most didn’t, and believe me you learn a lot after these experiences, and you learn the most from all the mistakes you make. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the years:

Protect your cash

Protect what cash you have. Don’t spend a ton of money on researchers or consultants when you can do very relevant research on your own.

Fill a need

[quotes]I could really care less about whether random people liked the idea or not.[/quotes] You should be more concerned about if there is an actual need for your idea. Your idea may appeal most to a unique, niche market, so beware: Don’t charge out and do a random public survey, you may never speak to the actual end user.


Before you start your validation, get complete CLARITY! Write a business plan for your idea before you dive off the entrepreneurial diving board.

The simple act of writing a good, solid business plan BEFORE committing to the idea will force you to answer critical questions, do very focused research, and ultimately save you tons of time, money, and effort.

A few clarity questions would include:

  • Can you clearly describe the “emotional” value of your idea in 20 seconds or less? Look, [quotesright]I don’t want to know how it works. [/quotesright] I want to know what problem it will solve for me. How it will make my life easier? How will I be more successful. If you can’t answer these questions, go back to the drawing board.
  • What makes your idea so crazy unique that it would even have a market and/or beat out any existing competition?
  • Who, specifically would be your perfect customer?
  • Again, what problem are you solving or need fulfilling that your product or service would dramatically change a specific market or consumer group?


There are several ways to validate your idea. Some will include,

  • Online search engines. You can effectively research anything, instantaneously on any of the search engines, so dig in! Be sure to search within the very specific categories that match your idea.
  • Friends and family. Talk with friends and acquaintances who might have experience selling into these specific categories
  • Printed media. Read newspaper articles; magazine articles and newsletters on your “ideas” industry.
  • Online forums. Go to web sites and post questions that deal with the need that you believe your idea would fill. Don’t give away your idea but probe into the validity of your perceived solution.

Don’t fall in love

Don’t be “in love” with your idea so much that you are not open to changing it! You might find through specific research and conversations that people say, “I like your idea, but for this industry if you would just focus it here rather than there, do this rather than that, it would be incredible!” [quotesright]Many times my original idea ended up completely different but more effective and more valuable. [/quotesright]

Learn the business

Be sure you know something about the business you’re about to dive in to. If you don’t know much about it, learn. The reason that nearly 90 percent of all start-ups fail within two years is that the entrepreneur had a great idea with no experience or guidance and an unwillingness to learn.

Entrepreneur? Me?

[quotes]Understand the definition of an entrepreneur![/quotes] It’s not someone who just has a great idea! It’s about work and effort, and more work and more effort. It’s about believing in yourself and your idea when no one else does. It’s about pain and suffering and sacrifice. It’s about not making payroll unless you don’t pay yourself. And it’s about my final point.

Be fully committed

[quotesright]Finally, be fully committed! [/quotesright] Many times, investors, bankers, and supporters alike will base their willingness to help you with ideas, advice, and counsel strictly based on their perception of your level of commitment to the concept.

If they can’t see, hear, and feel your passion and commitment, your coachability and your willingness to listen, they won’t have the time for you!

Focus, clarify, work hard, and always be ready and willing to step out in faith at some point.

- by Coach Dan Creed