Inc.com’s Inc. Wire recently ran an article about John Mardini, a 22-year-old business major at NYU who just launched his third company. The article discusses Mardini’s past business ventures — which include a DJ service and a consulting and technology service company called Munifi Networks — and Voyager Mobile, which is Mardini’s most recent start-up. Voyager Mobile provides unlimited cell phone services starting at $19 a month.
Although he hasn’t yet started his senior year at NYU, Mardini has already made a name for himself in the small business world. His mantra? “If you have an idea, you need to pursue it. Not every idea’s a good one, but you won’t know unless you try.”
Obviously Mardini’s ideas have taken off, but what about the ideas of other potential small business owners? How do you know when an idea is worth pursuing?
1) Look for unmet needs or an untouched market.
Unless you have an existing set of clients, solid funding from an outside source or high-powered colleagues with deep-rooted connections, it’s likely that your idea provides a service or product for which a (strong) market does not currently exist. If your idea addresses a need or market that is already being targeted, you’ll have to work even harder to ensure the success of your business venture.
2) Provide a solution.
If you’re going to address a market that is currently untapped, you have to provide a viable, easily accessible and well-thought-out solution. For example, in 2009, there was virtually no market for providing surety bonds online. The founders of SuretyBonds.com recognized this need, started a company and developed a credible and easily accessible website. The company is now one of the nation’s leading surety providers.
(By the way, almost every small business owner must acquire a surety bond as a part of the business licensing process, so be sure to include this task on your start-up to-do list and in your start-up budget.)
3) Consider your skills and strengths.
Before you pursue your business venture, think about what makes you an expert on the subject or in the industry. Maybe your education speaks for itself, or maybe you have years of experience in the field under your belt. Whatever qualifications you have, you need to make sure that your targeted audience sees you as an expert.
4) Be realistic about your personal financial situation.
Even if your idea is sure to strike gold, you can’t move ahead with a start-up if you don’t have adequate funds. Starting a business is an investment, and, unfortunately, the majority of small businesses fail during their first year. To determine if you’re financially able to pursue your idea, be realistic about your personal financial situation. Then develop a detailed start-up budget plan based on how much you’ll need to get your venture off the ground.
These days, a truly good idea is not something that should be taken lightly or ignored. If you believe that your idea has the potential to be profitable as a small business, take the above points into account and take a leap of faith.