Your consciousness has put this little nagging idea in the back of your head. It’s your curiosity that gets you to the point of deciding if it’s a good idea and even more importantly if it is one worth pursuing.
This curiosity comes to life thru an endless stream of questions. Each question gets you a little more information and helps you add color to your idea and to define if and how you move forward.
Basic questions like:
- How did it get this way?
- Has it always been like this?
- Why do they do it that way?
Help you gather deep background information on the industry and possible competitors.
As you begin to develop an understanding more complex questions are asked. These might include:
- How much does that cost to do?
- What are the cost drivers?
- What are people paid?
- What are the margins?
- Where does that come from?
- What skills are required?
- How do they acquire customers?
- Who are their suppliers/partners?
- Who else does this?
- Who are competitors?
These questions give your target detail and help you decide if you should continue to invest your time. Many of the answers might be guesses which will be revised later sometimes many times. Answers might also not be readily available but they help raise the entrepreneurs consciousness for things to be on the lookout for in the future.
An example of this is a company that I am working on with some of my students. The company is called “nomo” and it is an app that gives college students a place to find out everything that is happening on and around campus. This includes sporting events, club meetings and even parties. All of the content is entirely user generated and kept away from administrative control.
The idea came from one student making the comment that the “administration needs to fix the website because you can’t find out when anything is happening.” This lead to question “how do you find out what is going on?” being asked informally of many students on many campuses. As the onion was peeled back and the question why was asked it became apparent that there was a wide spread problem that cut across every campus in the US. As a follow up some quick financial questions about how much this might cost to develop and run. And who would be interested in gaining access to these students gave answers that demanded that further work be done.
There are similarities between how this curiosity guides you and the six sigma process. Many doing the six sigma process advocate using the five why’s. This informal process involves asking the question Why do you do that? Or Why is it that way? and when you get an answer you ask Why? again. Each successive time you get deeper and deeper into the problem until you are theoretically at the root cause.
As an entrepreneur it is by peeling back these layers that you develop an understanding of the strengths and vulnerabilities of a company or industry and gives you the tools and knowledge to capitalize on your idea.
Next Month: Creative