Here is where you really get started. With this first step, you’ll test the essence of your idea by boiling it down into a brief explanation.
Write Your Idea Down
The way an idea sounds in your head usually makes a lot more sense to you than it does when you explain it to someone else. That’s why your first step is writing your idea down.
The goal here is to make sure 1) you know what your idea is, and 2) you can explain it to someone else. (You’d be surprised how many people struggle with one or both of these.) To help you get started, we recommend the following outline for your idea summary:
- A three- to four-sentence summary of your idea. Make this as clear and direct as you can. How easy would it be for someone else to draw a picture of what you’ve written? There are great resources on being clear and concise in your writing available from Purdue University, the University of Richmond, and the University of Wisconsin.
- What problem does your idea solve? Be specific when you describe the problem. Saying that, “Our educational system is inadequate” doesn’t really mean anything. Saying that, “There are too many at-risk teens who fail to prepare for college” means a lot more. Try David’s process for strengthening your problem statement.
- How does your idea fix the problem? Based on your explanation, it should be clear why the people with the problem will want your idea.
- Why do you want to fix the problem? This will probably be a hard question to answer clearly, but the “why” is sometimes the only thing that keeps social entrepreneurs going.
Don’t write more than this. If you feel a need to explain why you’re the best person to solve the problem, how much money you plan to earn or fundraise, or even what you’re naming your venture and why, then stop writing. Those things are important, but nothing is as important as the idea itself, simply expressed.
If you’ve used more than two screens, then you’ve written too much. The majority of good ideas can be expressed in a single screen. Pare it down before you submit it.
You’re done with this topic when you’ve posted the writing outlined above on your blog and tagged it “edstartup” and “idea”. If you just can’t wait to find out how good your idea is, go on and take the Pain Test.