I have a great idea for a business.  So what’s next?

The first, basic step is to start fleshing it out on paper and questioning the idea to within a millimetre of its life!

This is a dry run for you to make a decision on whether to sink some real time and money into a more formal business plan.

As you can ascertain, there’s a lot involved in fleshing out an idea to determine its feasibility before you even think about pursuing a more formal business plan.

Writing out the idea forces you to start looking at it through a different filter and to start testing its feasibility.

So let’s start asking some questions.

What is the idea and how will it make money?

If you can’t communicate the answer to this question succinctly and simply, take this as a possible early warning sign. Try pitching it out loud to yourself in less than 30 seconds. Is it convincing or does it induce a shoulder-shrug?

Is there really a need for it?

If so, is the need big enough to sustain the idea? We’re talking market size here. Who is the market? Is it growing? Is it static but with untapped potential? Or is your idea going to create a demand that hasn’t previously existed?

Does your idea already exist in some form?

If it doesn’t, great, but if it does, all is not lost. Does your idea have a point of difference that will turn the existing market on its head? Or does it simply have a more functional advantage – cheaper? cleverer?

What advantage will your idea have over your competition?

Which leads us to more questions…who is your competition, who’s leading the pack and why are they owning that space?

Will your point of difference be evident through its look (design), manufacturing smarts, ground-breaking distribution channels or its marketing?

In terms of functionality, how is it going to look, be made, distributed and marketed, and who is going to do this and what sort of costs are going to be incurred from a start-up phase and in the second and third year roll out?

However, don’t think that you have to spend a lot of money on research at this stage.

We’re fortunate enough to live in an age where access to information has never been easier. Industry associations, chambers of commerce, census data – it’s all out there if you’re willing to do a little digging.

If the idea can withstand this initial barrage of questions without dampening your enthusiasm then, armed with a strong sense of belief and a little faith, there’s no reason why you can’t follow in the footsteps of those who have forged success before you, and who have been in exactly the same spot as you are now.