How to Beat the Odds and Make Your Ideas Successful

Last Updated Apr 21, 2010 2:37 PM EDT

Roll the DiceHave you ever just woken up and, in a flash of insight, realized you've figured out the solution to all the world's problems? Me neither. I do, however, have inspirations, from time to time. Some of them work out, most don't. But wouldn't it be great if you could beat the odds? Well, you can.

It doesn't matter if you're an entrepreneur, a technologist, a product marketer, a first-time CEO, or thinking of starting your own business. This process will help you improve the odds of your ideas being successful. But first, let's set some ground rules.

Ground Rule 1. There are some things you simply can't control. Luck, for instance. Sure, you can improve your odds of getting lucky, mostly by putting yourself out there, being open to opportunity, and taking risks.

Ground Rule 2. Timing really is everything. If you do everything else right, the most likely thing to trip you up will be timing. Nailing everything below will help, but not entirely. That's just the way it works.

With that in mind, here's How to Beat the Odds and Make Your Ideas Successful:

  1. Trust your passion and inspiration. I can't overstate that, it's always your best compass.
  2. Be entirely honest with yourself. That's the counterbalance to the first point. Don't BS yourself, breathe your own fumes, sugarcoat, that sort of thing.
  3. What's the business case? Does it solve some critical customer problem? Is it a big market opportunity? Are the barriers too high for you and not high enough for competitors?
  4. What's the value proposition? What's so special about your idea versus the universe of other possibilities and competitors? If you can't articulate that with a straight face, move on.
  5. Know the market and its infrastructure, inside and out. There's simply no way around that. Brilliant ideas, widgets, whatever, rarely sell themselves these days.
  6. What are the most important requirements for success? Make sure you nail them.
  7. Bounce it off the smartest, most savvy people you can find. Really listen to what they tell you. This trips up many entrepreneurs who are afraid someone will steal their idea. Well, that's one sure way to kill a business plan - don't tell anyone about it.
  8. Understand the key risks. Ask what's likely to go wrong and, most importantly, listen to the answers. It doesn't have to stop you, but at least you'll know.
  9. Don't do what everyone else is doing. If you do, it diminishes your odds significantly. And if you follow the masses, guess what that makes you? That's right, a follower.
  10. Keep it simple. If you have to complicate it to make sense, then it probably doesn't. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's probably a duck. Don't try to change or interpret the obvious.
If all this scares you, good, it should. Success takes a lot of hard work and there are no shortcuts. The good news is that, once you've done all this, you're odds will be far better than if you didn't. Just remember, you can either do it upfront or you can do it when someone makes you do it, but you will have to do it. And sooner is always better than later.

Image: CC 2.0 via Flickr