Guest posts / Resources

11 questions to ask yourself before pursuing a new business idea

Overwhelmed with too many great ideas? Entrepreneur Danilo Vicioso offers some pointers.

This is a guest post by University of Delaware student entrepreneur Danilo Vicioso.

I often struggle on deciding what business to pursue next (I have failed before). With an innovative mindset, I’m always toying with a series of ideas. The biggest question is, what do I work on next? What is the best use of my time?
Being paralyzed with too many ideas can be intimidating. You get an idea and rush of dopamine forms a drug-like addiction to your idea. The paralyzing dream of the potential around this idea fills your head and the next thing you know you are about to dive head first. But wait. Three days later and the excitement behind that idea dies down. The initial work is not so sexy, neither is the backend development, the business planning, etc. Then the next big idea comes in. You get an idea and rush of dopamine forms … yep, it’s the same thing. How do you decide what idea to pursue?
The most important thing is to pick one. Spreading yourself too thin will prohibit the execution of your best idea. Metaphorically speaking, the amount of energy and drive of turning a idea into a functioning business can be quantified as a bucket of water. If you have five ideas, five empty buckets of water, you will not physically be able to fill all five bucket. The result? Five wimpy bucket of water, five failures. Find the idea that you want to pursue and go from there.
Come up with parameters that decide whether or not you want to pursue the idea. For example, here’s what I ask myself:

  • What is my 10-year plan? How does this project tie in with that plan?
  • What is the worst thing that can happen?
  • What stressed me the most from my last venture? How would that continue in this one?
  • What skills will I be learning and what relationships will I build?
  • How long will I have to be working in my business until I can work on my business?
  • How easy is this to test? What are the prototype costs?
  • What is my exit strategy?
  • Why will this idea NOT work?
  • How can I make this idea 10 times as big in half the time?
  • What is my competition?
  • What personal struggles do I currently face and how will the time constraint of working on this new venture affect that?

Rank these from one to ten and then fill all this information out in a spreadsheet. It is hard to clearly compare business ideas unless you have them written down in front of you.
When this is all said and done, get feedback. Speak to peers, not just your family and friends because they might tell you what you want to hear. If you have a way to pilot your initial concept with minimal time effort and cost, do that.
Comparing one business idea to another will help determine what the optimal idea to pursue is. Pick the idea and then find the opportunity cost of pursuing that idea. What skills could you refine or attain instead of pursuing the business? When deciding to pursue an entrepreneurial venture it is important to analyze your time, the opportunity cost of learning a skill and what other ventures you could work on.

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