PDA

View Full Version : How on earth do you decide if a plan B has legs?



d000hg
18th November 2009, 22:08
I've been jotting down my ideas for software-based plan B ideas, for when I have time to work on them, or money to pay someone else to help.

But... I have absolutely no idea which are any good. And of those I think are good, I have no idea which can actually generate profit.

How did people here with plan Bs in development decide it was worth the amount of time needed? Did you approach it on a business level, or blindly jump into the coding on the basis "my mate in the pub agreed it was great"?

Without giving away secret details, can people share their experience in this tricky area?

scotspine
18th November 2009, 22:13
business first. if there's no business need, you'll have no customers. so you have to do some market research to find out which of your ideas has a real, identifiable need. don't believe the hype that you can create your market. you'd also need to find out who else might be operating in the same market. what their market penetration is, what your differentiators might be etc etc.

above and beyond that, you have to really, really, really want to do it coz it'll consume every waking hour [and lots of the sleeping ones too].

but, better to have tried, and maybe succeed, than never to have tried at all...

oh, and be *very* careful about who you go into business with :alien

conned tractor
18th November 2009, 22:19
oh, and be *very* careful about who you go into business with :alien

One of my dads mates set up a pizza restaurant in what was probably early to mid eighties and offered delivery of pizzas - i know cus as a nipper I used to go with him on the deliveries when he was helping his mate out. He must have been one of the first pizza delivery businesses around. But his businees partner ran off with his wife and all the money leaving him right up shit street. Shame really. Another useless anecdote!

Cliphead
18th November 2009, 22:23
Spotted a business need.

Spoke to potential customers.

'If you build it they will come.'

Got advance orders and deposits up front.

Found a company to build, package and ship it.

Working on Mk 2.

PS And two years of eighteen hour days to get it there.

RichardCranium
18th November 2009, 22:34
Write a business case in the cold light of day. BusinessLink (http://www.businesslink.gov.uk) can tell you how.

Then follow the business case.

If Plan B does not deliver, ditch it.

OrangeHopper
18th November 2009, 22:43
I'm yet to know whether mine has legs and I've been at it on and off for two years now.

I was simply aware that commercial equivalents were often bundled in with many other components, not necessarily required by the end user, and hence costly. I then looked for other suppliers and found there was only one other doing something similar with the same enabling method. This, plus knowing that only time would be the main cost, convinced me to try. For the first time I knew I had an idea that could possibly go places.

As scots has already pointed out, "better to have tried, and maybe succeed, than never to have tried at all". Even if it doesn't earn me anything, I will have enjoyed it while it lasted and given me a purpose in the evenings rather than watch yet more mediocre television.

To date it has made enough to pay the hosting costs for the next decade.

d000hg
18th November 2009, 22:53
business first. if there's no business need, you'll have no customers. so you have to do some market research to find out which of your ideas has a real, identifiable need.If you can see your idea definitely serves a purpose, is that the same?


above and beyond that, you have to really, really, really want to do it coz it'll consume every waking hour [and lots of the sleeping ones too].That part's not so much a problem, the coding anyway. The sad thing is I get the impression writing the software is the easy part :(

As far as market research... if your idea is something new rather than a twist on an existing idea, how do you do research without giving the idea away. I know the 'ideas are worthless' argument, but if other people see you are actually investing in your idea, they may figure "it must be a good idea, someone is working on it"!

conned tractor
18th November 2009, 23:05
What about selling it?

I would have thought that a job in itself - not many things sell themselves.

PRC1964
18th November 2009, 23:21
My plan B became my plan A.

I was very cautious about making the jump from A to B, and I earn less than I used to as a result as well as working longer hours.

I also have responsibility for seven other families who now depend on Plan B Ltd to provide for them.

I do however have complete control over the company and what we do and can see how the company could grow and (hopefully) mature into something that will provide me with a decent pension pot.

I've sold a company in the past and been caught up in the nightmare of being contractually obliged to stay while no longer the boss. Never again will I make that mistake.

VectraMan
19th November 2009, 00:17
I think there's also the "may as well" factor. Whilst on the bench I've been pretty much working full time on the plan B. I'd much rather be doing something than watching Jeremy Kyle, even if it ultimately turns out to be a waste of time.

Having a product is still a lot better than not having a product, and if it's not costing you anything but time, the business case doesn't really matter.

Clippy
19th November 2009, 02:45
If you can see your idea definitely serves a purpose, is that the same?

That part's not so much a problem, the coding anyway. The sad thing is I get the impression writing the software is the easy part :(

If there is no demand for it then it doesn't matter if it serves a purpose.

Just watch an episode of Dragon's Den and you'll regularly see individuals who have designed a product to solve a problem.

However, the demand for the solution, the Dragon's quickly point out, would not be high.

You need to determine the size of the market and potential demand which is normally done by examining competitors.


As far as market research... if your idea is something new rather than a twist on an existing idea, how do you do research without giving the idea away. I know the 'ideas are worthless' argument, but if other people see you are actually investing in your idea, they may figure "it must be a good idea, someone is working on it"!

Difficult to do but you need to speak to potential customers to gauge interest and ask them "would you pay for this product/service".

With regards not giving away too much information regarding your product/service, you could ask them to sign an NDA but I would imagine they would be reluctant to. One way round this may be to get to know them first by attending industry events, trade shows etc and to develop a relationship.

NickFitz
19th November 2009, 02:57
Suck it and see :)

I've got an idea on the boil at the moment. Every single person I've described it to has been somewhere on the scale between "That's awesome!" and 'That's so awesome, I'd buy it with my own money!"

However life has taught me one thing: market research doesn't mean jack shit until other people's money lands in your pocket.

I'm lucky. I learnt that by watching other people. Now I know that it doesn't really matter how good something is: you only find out when you go for it, and the punters hand over their dosh.

And there's also those ludicrously bad ideas that make people rich for no apparent reason - pet rock, anyone?

So the answer to your question is as I said: suck it and see. Just don't put your life's savings into it until you've sold the first x units, where x is a figure that only you can decide upon :)

threaded
19th November 2009, 07:12
I've been jotting down my ideas for software-based plan B ideas, for when I have time to work on them, or money to pay someone else to help.

But... I have absolutely no idea which are any good. And of those I think are good, I have no idea which can actually generate profit.

How did people here with plan Bs in development decide it was worth the amount of time needed? Did you approach it on a business level, or blindly jump into the coding on the basis "my mate in the pub agreed it was great"?

Without giving away secret details, can people share their experience in this tricky area?

I've found it truly is pretty random. Examples: I spent months developing a fancy car alarm/tracking system, it makes a regular income, but quite small compared to the effort. Another, as a joke, I modelled the CSA to make my own version, took an afternoon or so, it is now part of systems in several countries, and I'm earning more than even my tame sales people told us we'd make.

milanbenes
19th November 2009, 07:56
hmmm,

this question...

'Did you approach it on a business level, or blindly jump into the coding on the basis "my mate in the pub agreed it was great"?
'


you are assuming all plan b's are IT related


Benes Plan B is not IT related


How Benes Plan B happened is a very nice story, the planets aligned, the Team proved their capabilities to each, the Team went commercial while key members kept their day jobs, now, those key members work full time for Plan B, how plan B happened, the path that was taken is a very nice story

even interesting is the whole timing thing you could not make it up, if the crisis had come 6 or 12 months later we could have been fecked, thank feck the crisis came when it did, the greatest thing that could have happened to us is that when we wanted to greedily grow exponentially the banks would not lend to us, thank you banks for turning us down, for if we had borrowed then come the crisis we would have been fecked, the greatest thing the banks did for us is not lending to us

consequently, we run cashflow positive and self financed, sleep well at night and move forward, second loaf of bread is in the oven and third is being planned

all the best with your plan b's

Milan.

threaded
19th November 2009, 08:18
, the greatest thing the banks did for us is not lending to us


I have to say I agree with this. If anything one of the few patterns I've discerned is the less money you have to put in the better. Time is OK if I've got it, but money no way. I've often had people coming to me with 'great' business ideas, but they always seem to require a lot of my money as input. I take the attitude that if they just need money, they can go to a bank, they don't need me.

Quick burn, venture capital, WHY, is generally a way to rip off your IP. I know a guy who turned his PhD into a product, went for venture capital, now he's working in a bank and they've basically ripped his lifes work from him.

DimPrawn
19th November 2009, 10:01
I've sold a company in the past and been caught up in the nightmare of being contractually obliged to stay while no longer the boss. Never again will I make that mistake.

WHS. Worse than being permie.