tl;dr: I love your idea. I want to hear about your idea. Please, do not interpret this post as me stifling your idea. But an idea without a commitment to execution is useless… at best an interesting conversation over a beer or a coffee. Don’t let that be your idea. Commit yourself to executing well.
Your idea sucks.
It’s just not that great.
Someone, somewhere has already had it, and someone, somewhere is probably already working on it.
You’ll be OK though.
Most VC firms and angels WILL NOT SIGN AN NDA until a term sheet is seriously being considered. Why is that?
Because they’ve already heard your idea that day, and they don’t want to give you the ability to come after them legally when they fund the other guy and not you.
Ideas are fun. I love them. I really, really, really love them… But if the pursuit of ideas comes at the expense of a commitment to execution you have ceased being an entrepreneur. You are a hobbyist. Entrepreneurship is about actualising ideas into successful enterprises. For an enterprise to be successful it needs to be self sustaining, otherwise the enterprise (and thus the underpinning idea) will fail. Don’t be that guy/girl.
Get a partner. Don’t do it on your own. Note: As a general rule, single founder start-ups DO NOT get funded. That’s because they are riskier. Ponder this.
Make a plan. Not a big, long, scary business plan that ties you down and stifles your ability to be creative or pivot, but at least one that marks out your next waypoint.
Work on one, maximum two, start-ups at a time. This is key, and probably the thing I find hardest. If you are working on two, make sure that they are in the same domain and can cross-pollinate.
Seek out people who’ve MADE IT and buy them lunch. Not people with ideas. People who have achieved the end game you’re aiming for – successful exit, successful lifestyle business, disrupted market, successful social/altruistic enterprise, etc. Listen to them. Accept their criticism. Stay close to them
Commit to excellence. Lean is good, but don’t ship shit. The marketplace has started to wise up to this whole “trick ‘em into being test guinea pigs” thing. Make it good or stop. (To be fair, you can probably get away with ignoring this one… It’s more of a personal ethic. Note the use of “probably”.)
Make yourself accountable. Ideally to your business partner, but also to your spouse, significant other, best friend, etc. Keep them close to what you are doing. Let them tap you on the shoulder if they think you’ve lost your vision (I hate this, but it’s key).