Ok, so you have an idea.

It’s quite possible that if you’re looking to start a business, and the life of an entrepreneur seems like the pinnacle of excitement for you, that ideas come often to you.

But every once in a while you have a really good idea.  You discuss it with select friends, your brain works on it in late hours of the night, you have an idea that you feel could really be something.

After weeks, maybe even months, of turning the idea over and over in your mind, something happens that maybe perhaps steals a little bit of the confidence you have in your idea.  It could be that you are relaxing at home on a Wednesday night when a rerun of Dragon’s Den comes on and you realize that there are a number of people, much much further ahead in the development stage than you, that thought they had a good idea too.  But it is not a good idea, and it flops.

So you ask yourself, “could that be me?”  Time, energy, passion and money all wasted for an idea YOU thought was great, your mom thought was great, but is actually totally stupid and will never ever sell to anyone who knows anything about business. 

How do you validate your idea?  To validate your idea to others you must first validate your idea to yourself.   Here are 3 seemingly simple tips that will help you validate your idea to avoid the headache – and heartache – of a flop. 

The zen of detachment

Zen masters will advise the concept of “detachment” to anyone seeking enlightenment.  To be truly happy you must detach from material possessions, wants, people, location etc. etc.  It is no far stretch to take the art of detachment to heart when looking at your entrepreneurial ideas.  Sometimes you spend so much time with an idea that it becomes a part of you, blinding you its potential to evolve and change.  Be open to the thought that the final execution of your idea could be entirely different than its original concept.

Make a list of the core components that you hope to preserve as your idea evolves, and then be ready to even give those up if reason suggests that is what needs to be done.  If your idea truly isn’t meant to be in the end, you will still have the strength to move on to your next idea without a hangover in defeat.

Make friends with the enemy

It could be that your good idea is something you guard, afraid it will get snatched up.  Perhaps you have run it by some trusted friends and family members, all of which said it was an amazing idea worth pursuing.  Chances are, people who like you or want you to like them will genuinely like your idea and tell you as such.  It is so much easier to feel that way than to open up a doorway to potential conflict.

In truth, you will only discover the potential of your idea by talking to people that don’t care at all about your feelings.  Most of the time that means perfect strangers, but wisely chosen ones at that. Seek an audience with those in the industry, potential investors, and even potential competitors.  Make it your objective to find criticisms about your idea, because tackling those criticisms (with your new sense of detachment) in the beginning days will give your idea some stamina to evolve. 

Demonstrate genuine confidence

Once you have really worked the ins and outs of your idea, spoken with a number of people within the industry, really gotten to know your target market and rubbed shoulders with the enemies, your idea should have undergone an amazing transformation process. 

Take your idea and present it with a confidence that is literally contagious. Believe in your idea with every sense of your being and people will see that and want to believe in it too.  Be mindful here, though, that you haven’t lost the ability to ‘detach’.  It’s a tricky balance, but worth it if you have a really good idea!

In truth, you will only discover the potential of your idea by talking to people that don’t care at all about your feelings.