For the beginner, the person just starting out looking for entrepreneurial ideas you may not know where to start. If ideas don’t come to you easily perhaps what could help is a framework for the different roles that entrepreneurs take on when generating, evaluating and implementing ideas.
Roger von Oech in his book “A Wack on the Side of the Head and A Kick in the Seat of the Pants” suggested four specific roles for entrepreneurs who want to come up with ideas, evaluate the best ones and then put them into action. The four roles are:
Explorer: Searching for new information
Artist: Developing new ideas from available resources
Judge: Evaluating an idea
Warrior: Carrying an idea into action
In the first two roles – Explorer and Artist – the entrepreneur is looking for information about problems opportunities based on what is happening in the marketplace and whether there is market-driven demand. When you explore the market for new information you make sure that your idea generation process focuses on the market. In the second step you would use your creativity to come up with as many ideas as possible and combine different ideas and concepts. Fusing two separate ideas often provides the breakthrough. Yet it’s not a role that often sits well with the logical left-brained person who perhaps is used to only fact-based and number-crunching thinking.
There are many tools for idea generation which include observation, listening, getting away from your regular environment and using idea generation techniques such as personal brainstorming, the 20-Idea Method or freewriting. At least over 100 techniques are available for idea generation which means you can select the one that will work best for the task at hand and which you find fun to use.
When you take over the role of the Judge, you need to select and evaluate your ideas. It doesn’t matter what process you use – you just need one that focuses your mind on the clear commercial benefits of each idea. Some entrepreneurs would use a complex matrix with different criteria to evaluate their ideas while others might use a simple priority ranking system. The main things to watch out for our what sort of potential demand there is for the business idea, what resources will be required to develop and implement it, whether the product service idea is better than what is available on the market but not too radically different (there’s a reason for this which I’ll explain in a moment) and is relatively simple and easy to test. Brand-new products and services battle their way into a crowded marketplace and an entrepreneur who doesn’t have the massive resources to promote a new product or service like the giant companies needs to think carefully how a new product or service will be distributed and promoted.
In the final stage the Warrior focuses on implementation. In this step, the entrepreneur needs to develop, test market and implement the new product or service. This usually involves the formation of a small business which requires the entrepreneur to do the proper business planning, obtain resources including capital and a marketing plan.
These four roles are a useful way to look at the idea generation, development and implementation process not only for products and services new to the market but also in trying to build a sustainable business model for a new venture or rescue a failing one.