Putting Your Business Idea under the Microscope

Every successful business begins with that first idea. From fast-food restaurants to selling cosmetics from home, Ray Kroc first dreamed of hamburgers, and Mary Kay visualized selling makeup door to door. Your dream for an innovative new business is no exception — and the Internet has made it easier than before to launch a successful business. Maybe you have several unique concepts to choose from or are already firmly set on a single one. Either way, how do you decide whether you should quit your day job and focus on your brilliant idea? You have to pick apart the idea, observe closely, and determine whether it merits a full-time (or even a part-time) business.

One question often asked is whether or not the idea has to be original. Innovative, never-before-broached ideas for an online business certainly exist. But being the first to have and implement an original idea is not a guarantee for success. Ultimately, your concept for the business, whether it's a new idea or a twist on an existing idea, must be well thought out to increase your probability for success. This section describes the three methods you can use to decide whether your idea has potential.

Using informal research to verify your idea

The best place to begin gathering information is from sources closest to you. Be prepared to receive varying opinions — both positive and negative. Use this input as a general gauge of whether to continue reaching out to the next source ...

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