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Could Your Idea Be a Start-up Business?

Five questions to ask yourself to find out

Illustration by Beatrice Simpkiss

Dreaming of starting up your own business? We can help you to make steps towards that becoming a reality. D&AD has teamed up with giffgafff to offer a free, online, course for anyone with a glimmer of a creative business idea. The start-up school is led by Tom Evans – a business founder and consultant, advising businesses – who will lead you through key topics, such as business and brand strategy, practical productivity advice, and funding, with the help of other experts and start-up founders along the way. 

Before you get started on that challenging yet exciting journey, Evans has some questions to ask yourself to work out if that spark of an idea you have might have the potential to become a real business.


Who is it for?

You need to understand your customer’s lives, and how your product or service can make them happy, and provide great value to them. You need to bring something to that group that will enhance their lives in some way. 


How and why is it good?

How is your product or service different from or better than other stuff on the market? Is it a new product that doesn't exist yet? Is it a better version of something else? Is it a cheaper version of something else? Is it a slightly different version of something else for a different group of people? Or is it a whole new category that people don't even know they want yet? Steve Jobs famously used a quote attributed to Henry Ford, the inventor of the motor car: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

How does it make money?

Things don't always have to make money, but they have to create value somewhere because if it's not sustainable financially, it's not going to survive. To create a sustainable business, it needs to work in terms of being a profit-making machine. You need to consider how much stuff costs you to make, your overheads like a factory or office space, resources, how much time it takes, and how much you can sell it for. How are you going to create a value chain so that people are incentivised and motivated to keep doing this for at least the foreseeable future?

Why should anyone care about it?

This links to your purpose – people don’t just buy what you do but they buy why you do it. What is going to be the thing that allows you to cut through all the noise out there, of product launches, brand media, social media and advertising? Amongst all of this, what will make someone really care about that thing that you are doing?

Why are you doing this, rather than someone else?

In order to drag this thing kicking and screaming into the world, it’s hard work, and it’s not all fun and glory. It’s not all creative, either, a lot of it is numbers and logistics, and blood, sweat and tears. So unless you've got passion and resilience, and a deep need to bring this thing to the world, you're probably just going to give up. Ikigai is the Japanese philosophy around finding something that is your personal calling, an intersection of something you are good at, something you love, something the world needs and something that will pay you. If you can intersect and overlay these things then you’ve found the sweet spot. 

Enroll in the free online start-up school here

And for those ready to start making things happen, there’s an intensive Boot Camp course. This entrepreneurial bootcamp for anyone with a spark of a creative idea who wants to turn it into a business reality. Over the course of four weeks, you’ll work alongside a small cohort of fellow entrepreneurs to rigorously test your idea - both individually and as a peer group - and have it reviewed and improved by our expert facilitator. Information about that course can be found here.

With special thanks to giffgaff: the mobile network run by you, who have, with their support, enabled D&AD to help support you launch a business run by you.

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