5 Signs Your Business Idea Will (Never) Work

Don't let these signs discourage you from starting a business. Keep a journal of all of your ideas, and test the validity of each one.

A good business idea has a far better chance of succeeding than a bad one. But how do you know if your idea is the former or the latter?

Here’s a list of tips that can give you a better idea about whether your plan for a business is doomed from the beginning.


  1. You think your idea is the first of its kind.

    It is an unfortunate truth. When someone is the “first” person to have a great idea, they almost never are able to successfully bring the idea to life. Chances are, if you come up with an idea, there is someone out there acting on a similar idea. This doesn’t mean your idea is a complete non-starter, though. Take the time to do your research. Discover if someone is already bringing that idea to life and how you can improve upon it.

  2. Every one agrees that your idea is pure genius.

    Photo: Suits; Source: USA Network
    Photo: Suits; Source: USA Network

    You are in real trouble if everyone is telling you your ideas rule. Really? Not even one person can find a flaw in your plan? When that happens, you are surrounded by a bunch of “yes” people, who probably aren’t qualified to assess the true potential of your idea.  For example, do you want to start an SEO company? Consult other SEO experts and founders who have successfully pulled it off. When no one offers ideas for improvement, good results are far behind. Tell your idea to a qualified peer.

  3. Others have turned your past ideas into runaway success, so your new idea has similar potential.

    Even if you have come up with terrific ideas in the past, that doesn’t mean every single idea you can muster will be good and profitable. If this is the only reason you are following through on a business idea, review point two and put your genius to the test. Executing on a bad idea won’t make up for your inaction last year when you didn’t take action on your good idea.

  4. Your idea applies to an industry you know very little about.

    Photo: The Devil Wears Prada;  Source: Giphy
    Photo: The Devil Wears Prada; Source: Giphy

    It is possible to have great ideas about markets that you lack in familiarity. But you will also lack perspective that someone within the industry undoubtedly has learned. You might have blind spots (i.e., you’re unaware of all the reasons why it wouldn’t work very well) if you don’t have direct experience. If you do come up with an idea as an industry outsider, review the idea carefully and vet its market potential.

  5. The idea just popped into your head, so it must be a cash cow.

    This should set off alarm bells. It’s all well and good to have an idea fall from the sky when you are writing fiction, but not when you’re starting a business. The process that takes us from kicking the tires of an idea to the light bulb moment is actually longer than you may expect (even if we aren’t fully aware of it at the time).

    Imagine how a painter creates a masterpiece. They have likely painted vigorously in the months and years leading up to their ah-ha! moment of creation, landing an exhibit in the Louvre and going on to critical acclaim. You may be talented, but to create true works of art you will need to boost your skill.

Don’t let these signs discourage you from starting a business. Keep a journal of all of your ideas, and test the validity of each one. It is practice that keeps your creativity strong.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Cormac Reynolds works and writes for a variety of marketing and internet blogs. He loves all sorts of different aspects of blogging and also has a big interest in bludgeoning the culinary arts. Connect with @brightoncormac on Twitter.


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