The 3 Key Tests of a Powerful Business Idea - Merit Medals
Launch Special: FREE SHIPPING

The 3 Key Tests of a Powerful Business Idea

May 25, 2016

The 3 Key Tests of a Powerful Business Idea

I first caught the entrepreneur bug over ten years ago. Many friends and family asked me why I would take the risk. The financial risk. The competitive risk. The emotional risk.

My frequent reply: “I would be taking a risk by NOT starting a business.”

When business ideas emerge, they consume my thoughts. Many ideas get stored in the back of my brain (and in an ‘old idea’ folder on my desktop). Some ideas get deeper consideration. Domain names are purchased as placeholders. Business model are sketched out. And then those ideas get archived mentally and digitally too.

But sometimes one idea wins out. And then the risk equation changes. The idea of ‘regret’ becomes a real fear.

A winning idea needs to pass three key tests:

(1) Is the solution peerless?
Is the product or service truly differentiated in the marketplace? Does it move well beyond incremental value and provide exponential value compared to peers? Can the solution be described with words such as ‘first’ or ‘3x better’?   

(2) Is the business model protectable?
Is there a lasting sustainable advantage that can be earned? Can design and utility patents provide legal protection? Are there true barriers to entry? How will the biggest competitors respond?

(3) Can you spark passion?
Is there an emotional spark in the business? What greater good can be shared with customers? What is the underlying mission? And what contribution can be made for public benefit?

My previous business, Caboodle! Toys LLC, passed the tests above.   

  • Peerless: We developed the first “collect to win” concept in the toy industry. When you “collect them all” you deserve kudos for your efforts, namely with a Caboodle! - a box of special, exclusive rewards.
  • Protectable: In addition to trademarks and other legal protections, we designed the model to create a deep customer relationship. We quickly identified our very best customers because they told us — they wanted a reward!
  • Passion:  Our first collection, Noah’s Pals, focused on the beauty of animals, especially those that were vulnerable or endangered. We created educational content and partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Society to share a portion of our net profits.

We were fortunate to find success in the marketplace including an appearance on QVC. The business was acquired (only 18 months after launch!) by our biggest competitor, Schleich GmbH.

Turning to Merit Medals, the next three blog posts will share my thinking behind turning the idea into a reality.
- Can a greeting card concept really be peerless?
- Is the design of a simple lapel pin protectable?
What is a PBC? And how does it shape your passion?