What Makes An Idea “Good”

What Makes An Idea “Good”

So you have an idea for a company perhaps you’ve “always wanted to start,” or you have some cash to invest and are looking for a worthwhile place to multiply your money. Regardless of whether you are an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, or both – you don’t want to give yourself to something that’s – for lack of a better word – crap.

James Bond

The one question you are asking yourself is: “What makes an idea good?” – good enough to tip the scales and make you invest yourself into it.

Here are a few qualities of a good idea.

#1: It’s Doable

As the Biblical adage goes, no one plans to build a tower unless they know they have the means to complete it. So too, though we’d like to build a teleportation device and it would be worth a ga-gillion dollars, no real-life person has demonstrated anything close to being able to do that.

Teleport

Like any good story, it must project a good written beginning, middle, and end.

#2: Sustainable

So what if you can “start with a bang” – any half-@ssed party planner can do that. Will we see profit in year one, will we see an increase in revenue year two? Will will see any revenue in year three? How?

Lame Party

A good idea has a market and a projection based on current hard facts and a realistic and concrete plan to attain that in present and future.

#3: It Inspires You

So what if you can make money. Yeah, I said that. If you’re not passionate about it, chances are many others aren’t either, maybe even the founders. Maybe they won’t give a sh*t in year three. There’s all your money gone to hell.

The best ideas are the ones you live and die for. Are you really going to change the world and make it a better place? How? (Queue every motivational song ever.)

Steve Jobs

#4: There Are Good People Behind It

Getting Biblical again, “Good fruit does not come from bad trees, and in the same way bad fruit does not come from good.” – (loose quote there)

Nobody’s perfect but let’s get real: would you right-off-the-bat rather invest in a company Bernie Madoff pitched to you or Warren Buffett? Starting a business and investing in one both mean you’re betting on the success of that venue, which is run by human beings. The stakes are high and the risks are lower depending on the quality of the people running the d@mn thing.

Better Call Saul

Add Your Own: This list is definitely not exhaustive. If you have more suggestions to add, please use the comment box below.

In Short

Jack Benny – notoriously stingy and perhaps the greatest comedian of all time encapsulated the caution one should have when deliberating on this sort thing. In his most famous comedy sketch he gets held up at gun point and is asked, “Your money or your life.” After a period of awkward, humorous silence – comedians study Benny for his timing – the mugger repeats the question and he replies:

“I’m thinking it over!”

Think it over.

Jack Benny

7 Comments
  • Posted at 10:22 pm, June 29, 2015

    Joe, I would add the following:

    #5 The idea is indispensable to the customers that pay for it.
    #6 The idea is in its own ‘Blue Ocean’, and hence inherently defended as it grows in capability and acceptance among customers.
    #7 The idea can be easily pivoted if market conditions permit/require that.

      • Posted at 10:54 pm, June 29, 2015

        Great read Joe! Jason nice additions!. To point #5- Great question to ask is how do you/we know if the idea is indispensable to the customers? I love the phrase “Don’t fall in love with your product/idea/platform until the market does.”
        BoOms all around!

  • Posted at 2:38 am, June 30, 2015

    Great post! Fun read as well. As someone who represents investors – I absolutely echo #4.

  • Posted at 2:04 am, July 1, 2015

    #8 Is the market ready? As with great comedy, and according to Bill Gross re: startup success, timing is EVERYTHING! https://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gross_the_single_biggest_reason_why_startups_succeed?language=en

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