How to know your business idea isn’t bad

By Henry Brown

We’ve all made mistakes in our lives – some big and some small. We’ve all thought we were right and then realized later on that we were actually definitely wrong. In these situations, we will have looked at what went wrong, picked ourselves up, and put things right – assuming that’s what needed to be done (with small mistakes, it’s more often a case of chalking the whole thing up to experience and learning a lesson, rather than going back and making changes).

However, making a mistake when it comes to launching a brand new business is far more complicated. Starting a business isn’t something you can do overnight, and it’s likely you’ll have spent a lot of time working towards the moment you begin. Then there’s the money you’ll have spent on things like stock, branding, and maybe premises and staff. Plus, what about your plans? If you make a mistake when you start a new business, all those plans you made for the future that relied on the business doing well will have to be changed or entirely discarded.

It’s not a great position to be in, and although there are always things you can do, the time, effort, and money you’ll have put in up until this point can make everything seem overwhelming. You might not even have the energy or heart to start over.

So, it makes sense in that case not to make a mistake when you start a business. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Just don’t make a mistake… yet we know it’s not as easy as all that. If it were, no one would ever get anything wrong!

That’s why, if you want to avoid mistakes as much as possible when you’re a new business owner, you need to have all the facts before you even think about starting, and one of the most important facts you need to know is whether your business idea is good… or bad. As painful as it might be to hear, knowing your business idea isn’t so great can save you a lot in terms of energy, money, and more. So it’s worth putting the work in, even if the answer isn’t the one you’re hoping for.

With that in mind, here are some ways to determine whether your business idea is a great one or one you need to forget. Read on to find out more.

Start with yourself 

The best thing to do when you want to know if your idea is a good one or not, or at least the first thing to do, is to start with yourself. You might be super excited about your idea, and that could be what’s made you want to run with it, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually good.

Before you ask anyone else and let that idea out into the public arena, think about it objectively. Write it all down on a piece of paper and tuck that piece of paper away for a few days or even a week. Think about other things, do other things, come up with other ideas, and only then should you look at the notes you’ve made.

One of two things will happen at this point. The first thing is that you’ll still love the idea and be even more excited than before – you might even have some more points to add to it, and you’ll flesh it out more and more. The second thing is that you realize, after some time away from your idea, that it’s just not right. Perhaps there are issues that you hadn’t noticed before, or maybe it’s no longer as exciting as it once was. Maybe you’ve come up with something better, or you think it needs more work.

This strategy is going to be exceptionally useful when it comes to getting things right from the very beginning. But there are other things you’ll need to do as well if you still like your idea and think it could have legs.

Who else is doing it?

You’re probably going to think you’ve come up with something utterly unique when you think of your business idea, but is it really? Or are other people already doing it? That’s an important question to answer, even if it’s a difficult one to ask.

It’s important because you need to know who your competition is – you’ll have to work out how to get ahead of them and stay ahead at all times. It’s difficult because it’s not much fun to find out that you have direct competition, or even that someone else is already using the same idea you had and got there before you did.

However, it’s a necessary thing to do not just so you know about your competition but so you don’t make a mistake when it comes to starting your business. For one thing, if someone else is already doing something similar, knowing about it beforehand means you can make adjustments to your own plan so you differentiate yourself. You can also look at how well they’re doing (perhaps see how many followers they have on social media, for example, or where they rank in search engine results). This can help you get an idea of how viable the business could be if you were to start it, and what your target market is looking for.

Why aren’t they doing it? 

Or, what if it doesn’t seem as though anyone else is doing your idea? Again, you can look at this in two ways. One way is to be excited – you’ve come up with something unique that no one else has considered and you can be the very first. That means you’ll get the customers and their loyalty, so even when others start to emulate your business idea (which is what always happens), you won’t lose out too much.

The second way is to do some more investigating. After all, if it’s such a good idea, why doesn’t it already exist? It could certainly be that you’re actually the first one to think of it (there always has to be a first person to come up with any idea), but it could also be possible that the idea just isn’t a viable one, so make sure you’ve really looked into all the pros and cons before just assuming the idea you’ve got is a great one because you can’t find anyone else who’s doing it.

If it all still seems like a good idea, you’ll need to quickly come up with a name and get everything legal and perhaps trademarked so you can launch sooner rather than later – before anyone else gets there before you. Check out for more help on naming your business because getting that right is crucial.

Ask your friends 

You might assume (or perhaps even hope!) that your friends and family would love your idea and agree that it’s a great one. After all, they don’t want to upset you or tear down your dreams – they want to encourage you, so they’ll say what they think you want to hear.

That can definitely be true.

However, you need to impress upon them how important it is to tell the truth. Ask them to think of the idea, not you, and to come up with their reasons why it’s good and why it’s bad. Ideally, you should pick people you know will be honest with you, as you can rely on their answers more.

Why not ask strangers?

The answer is that this is probably a very early draft of your idea, and you might not be confident in sending it out into the world just yet. Knowing you have to ask complete strangers for their opinions can be daunting, and it might stop you from doing it altogether. Asking friends and family is easier, and when they do have something negative to let you know about, they’ll tend to do it in a kind way, helping you hear the advice you need without getting upset or mad.

Start small

Once you’ve gathered all the information you think you’re going to need, you might think you’re ready to get started, but what if you forget something? What if a challenge arises that you hadn’t thought about?

That’s why, even when you’re sure you’re ready, it’s still wise to take things slowly and to start your business as a part-time venture, or what’s known as a side hustle. In that way, you don’t have to invest quite so much all at once, and you can run a few more risks in getting things set up, giving yourself time to make changes and tweak things because you’ve got an income coming from another source.

By starting small, you stand a much better chance of becoming successful, even if it takes longer than you had thought it would. Starting by going all in stands a bigger risk of failure, so this is a decision you’ll want to think carefully about.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop, he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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