A few times a week, I find myself saying something I’ve been saying over and over again for years.
“Why doesn’t this exist!?”
I’ll experience a problem, think up a crazy solution, wonder why no one has done it, and if I’m really excited, I might even buy a domain name. But most of the time it stops there. I quit. I lose interest and move onto the next problem.
Sometimes, though, the idea nags. It pops up when I’m in the car. I think about it while I’m making coffee. I push it away, and it pops back up.
Well, in the last year, I’ve learned how to make ideas happen, and I’ve realized that anything is possible. Here’s how:
Ideate with Experts
The first step to making an idea happen is to tell someone about it. Too many entrepreneurs guard their ideas closely, but if there is anything I learned at TED, it’s that ideas are worth spreading.
I’ve been lucky to meet some amazing entrepreneurs, designers and developers, so when I have an idea, I know exactly where to turn for encouragement, advice, or a much needed reality check.
For big ideas, my friends at User10 sell an ideation package; a roundtable brainstorming session with a group of brilliant minds to figure out the fastest way to turn ideas into action.
Collect Interest & Orders
The easiest way to decide if an idea is worth chasing is to make a quick survey. My tool of choice is Wufoo. Keep the survey short (3-5 questions), and send it to 15-30 people that you respect.
If the feedback is good, it’s time to put it out there and capture real interest. Before building anything, I’ve used LaunchRock to create simple landing pages to collect email addresses. If you can collect email addresses, you know you’ve got something special.
And of course, the ultimate show of interest is a pre-order. For my latest side project, Caffe Ronzio, we used Celery to collect credit card numbers without charging. Then, when your product is ready, you can collect the funds immediately.
Design the Prototype
Most of my ideas these days are web ideas, so I use Moqups to create fast graphical representations (wireframes) of my ideas. Moqups lets you drag and drop stock design elements to quickly produce whatever you’re envisioning.
If it’s a multi-page website or app, I use Invision to weave all of the graphics together into a clickable prototype. This gives investors and developers a sense of how the website should work without costing much of anything to put it together.
Minimum Viable Product
Ok, now it’s time to spend some money (as little as possible!). A minimum viable product is the simplest possible version of your finished product. Forget all the bells & whistles. If you’re building a website for millions of users, build it first for 1 user.
The idea is that your minimum viable product (MVP) will solve the core problem for your early and most supportive users, regardless of how crude the solution. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be promising.
Make it Better
There is always another feature to add. So, be sure your idea is taking off and making money before you invest in additional features. But, continually reinvest and improve your product to stay ahead.
Taking something from conception to creation is amazing. When you’ve built something that didn’t exist before, you open the doors to building a solution to any future problem. Anything is possible.
Looking for something that already exists? Check out my directory of web services here.