Is Your Product Idea Good or Just "Faster Horses"?

Have you ever wondered if you should turn your latest idea into a business? Four steps to finding out if your new product idea is good.

Congrats! You have an idea for a new product. Now what? Well, first, you need to make sure it’s actually a good idea. When faced with this issue, Henry Ford said, tongue in cheek, “if I had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses.”

So how do we discover and filter good feedback? Obviously, this can be a challenge but my hope in this discussion is to shed some light on how we can navigate the idea evaluation process.

Here are some steps on how to determine if your product idea is good:

Step 1: Share Your Product Idea

Tell your friends, your mom, and some strangers. Listen to their reactions. Most people will tell you if they think it is a bad idea. You might have to read between the lines of a sarcastic “good luck with that.” If it’s a good idea, though, it often is obvious once the idea has taken a beating and still stands as being reasonable. Remember that often the best ideas shown out of context can be misunderstood so try to be as visual and evidence-based as possible.

There is a difference between people thinking your product idea is bad and thinking it’s impossible. Impossible isn’t bad if you have a way to make it possible. A seemingly impossible idea that you can make happen might even be to your advantage because it may be a barrier to entry for competitors.

Step 2: Define The Problem You’re Solving

All good ideas solve a problem. You need to both define the problem and address how you are solving it. When defining the problem, you need to ask: What is the problem? Who has this problem? How often do people have this problem? Why is it a problem?
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Now address how you’re solving the problem. Does your idea make a task quicker, easier, or cheaper? Does it make an existing process or task more intuitive? Does it make a task safer or more accessible?

If you can define the problem you’re solving in a way that is relatable, you may be on to something. You might think that your idea is obvious, and therefore not worth pursuing. Don’t be fooled! Your obvious solution to a problem might not be so obvious to everyone else.

Step 3: Is It A Good Business Idea?

If you have a great idea and no way to monetize it, then you may need to reconsider. There is a difference between a good idea and a good business idea. Will people be willing to pay for your product? If so, how much? Will you be able to cover your costs and make a profit? And, most importantly for investors, is it scalable? A business that is dependent on you being there to do everything and make every decision isn’t scalable.

Step 4: Are You Passionate About It?

Starting a business is hard. Long hours, late nights, and lots of articles about how to reduce stress and manage time are ahead of you. If you’re not passionate about your business, then you may find it hard to keep the momentum going. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you’re not excited about it, then you might not get very far.

Are you ready to get started? If you’ve taken these steps and you’re still convinced you have a good idea for a new product - now is the fun part, time to start your business!

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