Evaluating Business Ideas

Scoring Your Business Idea

Written by James Garvin for Gaebler Ventures

Entrepreneurs by nature are creative tinkerers whose minds often move much faster than their hands. They often come across several business ideas that they think would be successful, but often struggle on trying to settle on the one business that they can commit themselves too. Using a scorecard to help you assess your ideas before committing to one can be a simple tool to help you find "the one".

I've never met an entrepreneur who had just one idea for a business.

They usually have several business ideas that they create and analyze over a period of time and dabble with each of them to assess them further with out having committing to any one project. Commitment for an entrepreneur is often one of the hardest aspects. Commitment and focus on a single project means giving up the rest of your ideas by putting all of your eggs in one basket.

Fortune 500 corporations usually put new product or business unit ideas through a rigorous analysis that takes hundreds of team members and thousands of hours to research and test before committing the necessary capital and resources to any new product. Entrepreneurs on the other hand don't have nearly the time or resources to research each new idea as in-depth as mature companies and must instead rely on their intuition and short-cut research to validate ideas.

One of those quick short-cuts to help those entrepreneurs trying to settle on a single idea can be a scorecard sheet to help you quantify each opportunity in your current portfolio of ideas. You can customize a score sheet to fit your individual needs, but using the points below can help you frame the right questions that you need to ask about each and every one of your ideas:

Industry Attractiveness:

Using Porters 5 Analysis (Supplier Power, Buyer Power, Internal Rivalry, Barriers to Entry, and Substitutes), where does your business idea rank in the respective industry that you are trying to enter. For example, we could say that any new restaurant would score low on the Porters 5 analysis since competition is extremely high, barriers to entry are low, and buyer power (the consumer) is very high. This low score is validated by the low success rate of new restaurants due to the industry factors at force.

Personal Satisfaction:

No entrepreneur can succeed with out passion behind their project. Many entrepreneurs come across a good business idea that does not align with their personal or professional interests. Good business ideas are only a small contributor to the eventual success of a new business and execution, driven by passion, drives the bulk of the success that a new business will have. Be sure to rank your personal interest in each of your ideas before committing to them.

Resources & Skills:

Rank your skills in the area of your business. Do you have access to resources and the skills necessary to succeed in your desired market? Many entrepreneurs start successful business in the industry that they worked prior because they have the necessary experience and resources to succeed.

Other factors to score might be the average profitability in your industry, your confidence of success, or the amount of up-front capital that will be required to launch your idea. There are numerous factors to consider when evaluating business ideas, but having a structured and methodical approach, such as the business idea scorecard can help you in your evaluation of your business ideas and ultimately help you focus on the one that is most likely to succeed.

James Garvin began his education studying biotechnology. In recent years he has turned his interest in technology to helping two internet startup companies. The first business was an online personal financial network and the second was an e-marketing platform created to help entrepreneurs demo their web sites. Currently a student at University of California Davis, James is spending his summer incubating two new online businesses and writing about his entrepreneur experiences.

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