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10 tough love questions to ask of your business idea

When that stroke of entrepreneurial genius hits in the middle of the night, the possibilities are quite enough to provide for a night of sweet dreams of success, but in the broad light of day, does your idea still hold up?

Entrepreneur’s Jane Porter provides ten questions you need to ask to evaluate a new business idea and be sure it’s worth your time and effort.

1. What is my customer profile?

Maybe your product or service idea seems like just the right solution for you, but can you identify a clear customer base beyond yourself? Ask what your customer’s biggest pains are and how your product might help resolve them, says Alexander Osterwalder, co-author of Business Model Generation (Wiley, 2010) and founder of The Business Model Foundry, which provides digital tools to help develop business ideas. When David Dodge got the idea to start a tutoring business, he used Internet surveys to develop a psychographic analysis of his core customer. “I tried to dig deep and find more,” he says. “Understanding and segmenting your market is very important.” In 2005, he founded Sure Prep Learning in Scottsdale, Ariz., focusing his marketing on worried and competitive parents. Today, the business has more than 800 tutors.

2. What am I replacing?

Whatever your idea is, someone out there is buying something else in its place, says Jim Pulcrano, executive director of IMD, the top-rated Swiss business school. Ask yourself what makes your product compelling enough to replace what’s already in the marketplace. This doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to products that have a similar purpose as yours, Pulcrano says. You could also look at your target customers’ spending habits, he says, and consider how you could get them to buy your product instead of something else they currently purchase.

Full story at Entrepreneur.

Critical thinking and the entrepreneur.

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