As I established in my last post on ideas, it is important to test business ideas for viability – that is if they are bankable. After that, it is important to nurture them through what I call idea incubation.
So far, I have done several posts on ideas. And here am I doing another one. This is because since I did the first post on ideas, many people have asked several questions bordering on the subject. So today, I want to show you the need/skill for idea incubation.
Let’s say you have this great business idea. And the idea has gone through the business viability test. After this test, you are now sure that the idea is worth pursuing. The next necessary thing to do is to begin to incubate the idea to ensure that it does not die prematurely. I have identified 9 ways you can take your ideas through the idea incubation process.
- Constantly Refine the Idea
- Redefine if need be
- Identify Resources
- Set the right temperature
- Timing dynamics
Don’t stop reading now. Read the notes under each of them below because you will find examples that will prove very helpful. Okay, lets get right to it!
Idea Incubation 1: Constantly Refine the Idea
Things are always changing! Same thing with ideas. If your potential customers get introduced to a new technology, their perception of your business somewhat changes. Your idea should therefore go through constant refining until and after the business is launched. So, the question on your mind now might be “how do I refine my idea?” Ask questions like (also provide answers to them);
- Is this idea still as relevant as it was yesterday (last month, last year, etc.). If no, what can I do to make it more relevant? Start doing that immediately.
- Will my target customer still buy from me despite the recent change or advancement in technology? If the answer is no, what adjustments can I make?
- What can I cut out? Good question, right? While refining your idea in the process of idea incubation, it is very important to cut out the irrelevant areas.
- What can I add? Like Al & Laura Ries, I do not have much faith in convergence in business. So, what I’m implying here is for you to ask yourself what feature you can add to your idea to make more refined.
- What is stopping me from launching today, right now?! Attack this refining question every day! You need to launch before the idea becomes irrelevant or before someone else.
There’s more! Just brainstorm and ensure you are constantly refining your ideas to keep them relevant.
Idea Incubation 2: Redefine if need be
If your idea goes through the process of refining, it might need redefining. Here, you reword your idea description. You rework your idea presentation. You question the mission statement and make necessary changes.
What you are trying to achieve here is to ensure that the idea is best represented on paper as possible. This is what will form the perception of stakeholders (investors, prospective partners and customers) and ultimately the success of your business before and after it is launched.
Idea Incubation 3: Unify
Every time you think about your idea, something new comes to your mind. Nothing is too stupid to write down. If you have been keeping notes, it is important to once in a while consider all the points and see what can be unified and added to make the original idea better. But you must ensure that the original scope of the idea is not destroyed. Just the way no idea is too stupid to write down, no idea is too fantastic to be discarded if it will end up making your idea lose its original purpose.
Idea Incubation 4: Learning
This is perhaps the most important point here. In idea generation, viability test, incubation and final launching, self-education is the best success determinant or factor. Someone said “he who fails to learn is learning to fail”. I will rephrase that and say “he who fails to learn aims to fail.” As an idea incubator, you must constantly learn new things. If you can, pay money and go to business school or be a part of some entrepreneurial programme. If you do not have money to do that, learn from books, articles like this and through tapes and DVDs.
ALSO READ: Business Idea Viability Test
Get books on marketing, sales, negotiating, teams and so on. Don’t let a day end without learning something new.
Idea Incubation 5: Identify Resources
If you are not aware of what resources it will take to nurture your ideas till they become reality, chances are that they will never become. I have spoken to many people who say things like “I have this great business idea but I don’t have money to start it.” At the time I ask them how much money they will need, they are not sure. Proper idea incubation demands that you identify the required people (your team), money and everything else you need to make it a reality.
Idea Incubation 6: Documentations
While incubating your idea for success, the process should be documented all the way. The idea itself should be documented. I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I used to keep an ideas book. It is a practice I want to encourage you to indulge in. Then you can proceed to record the mental changes you make to the idea while developing it. Every detail is important.
Also if your idea needs any kind of legal documentation (for example, patent registration, business registration) to get it off the ground, make it happen.
Idea Incubation 7: Beautify
As you make changes and adjustments to your idea, work on the aesthetics. Make the idea attractive. Hire someone to create a beautiful and professional logo for you. Ask someone to create a website for the idea if need be. All this can be summarised in one word – branding. No matter how fantastic your idea is, you will not be able to make it as successful as it should be if it is not attractive enough.
Idea Incubation 8: Set the right temperature
A broody hen has enough sense to set the temperature that is required to keep her eggs healthy and to the point that they can hatch to become chicks. You need to do the same thing to your ideas. Your mental disposition, enthusiasm (or lack of it), your passion (or lack of it) all form the temperature for your idea. Ideas incubation requires that you ensure that the idea is always “burning” in your mind. One of the signs that the idea is burning in you is that you are always talking about the idea.
Idea Incubation 9: Timing dynamics
There is a time to reach out and make that idea a reality. If you miss it, you will likely struggle unnecessarily. There is time to speak with people about the idea. There is a time to experiment the idea. There is a time to launch the idea fully. You will know. It’s almost instinctive. Some years ago, I began to work with a friend of mine who had a business in IT. We used to suffer lots of financial struggles. Soon he completed a school management software he was working on. When he showed me how it works, I was excited. It was just too good. As the Business Development Director, I immediately pegged a price on it and started creating a marketing programme for it. While I was doing that, he announced to me that the software is not perfect enough yet. He told me that he wanted to add more features. That is a good thing so I waited. After including those features, I began to gear up again and he said the same thing. The software was perfect the first time. Well, at the end of the day, after many years, the software was still “in development”. The time for the launching passed and that was it. Timing is crucial.
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