Entrepreneurship 101: Why Great Business Ideas Can Fail: Value

You can have the greatest idea in the world for your business, but, if you don’t understand value…your business will never succeed.

Great business ideas fail all of the time. Why? Value.

Your idea can be revolutionary and world-changing. Your idea can be unique and innovative. You can have lesser aims but still deliver something better, faster, or cheaper than anyone else.

Your idea can be just what people need, what is missing in the market, what investors get excited about…but if you don’t consider value in terms of your customer—you’ll miss the boat. You’ll find yourself—sooner or later—a long way from shore, flailing in the water or going down with the ship.

Business ideas

Successful entrepreneur John Rampton is no stranger to failure (or success). He conveys this point as a contributor to Entrepreneur.com. Not being sure that customers want what you are offering and thinking more about the competition—or your investors—than your customer=failure. In fact, value—in terms of the customer—underlies most of the other mistakes he talks about.

Rampton explains that his first startup, “Just A Five”, failed because he spent so much money building something that nobody wanted. His customers didn’t know that they wanted or needed it. As Steve Jobs once said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Fivver.com has become incredibly successful since then, a site where you can hire people for any sort of project under the sun.

Rampton explains that founder of Intellibank, which founder Gary Swartz describes as a “sort of like Dropbox done wrong”, did the same thing. Gary’s investors saw the value of his idea but his customers did not.

Ben Yoskovitz made a similar mistake. He was able to raise almost $2 million for his idea for a career site, Standout Jobs, but hadn’t tested his assumptions with the customers who would be making this business a success. Many career sites have built upon his original idea successfully since then.

Competition. So many people that want to be entrepreneurs think to build on someone else’s idea by applying the idea to another market or by using another framework. They think they can execute the idea better or add value. It’s true that one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor, but it’s also easy to get sucked into a race to nowhere if you’re always looking and designing your offering based on what your competitors are doing instead of what the customers wants.

Sometimes, your great idea is really the thing your customers need. But if they don’t know this, and you don’t work to make them aware of this, then you won’t succeed either.

Your business idea may be inherently valuable: it may really be what people need or what will make people’s lives better. It may really be an improvement on a product or service. It might even help change the world!

But if you do not consider value in terms of what your customers secretly desire or want, even if they don’t realize they do: then your business is dead in the water.

So what’s the solution? What’s your life preserver?

Stop thinking about how your idea is the best thing. It’s easy to fall in love with your business idea so much that you are blind to everything else. Many entrepreneurs fall victim to this kind of tunnel vision. Turn your drive into figuring out what matters to your customers.

Stop worrying so much about investors and funding that you lose sight of who really matters: the customer. Test your idea in the market before launching anything. You’ll learn what people really want, what people will really buy, and you’ll have everything you need to pitch to investors because of it. And you’ll likely make the money you need.

Start thinking about your customer’s desires. Most people don’t recognize what they need. Think about the secret desires, painful points of life, what people attest to wanting and what is beneath this desire. Educate people to build your market. Think about need.

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