Nicole O’Brien, CEO of Sydney start-up hub Fishburners, tells us the hard truth about getting a business idea off the ground.

Every entrepreneur will occasionally come up with an idea they’re convinced will be the one that makes their fortune. These ideas usually sound fabulous on the surface but, once a little more research has been done and friends or colleagues play a “devil’s advocate” role, even the shiniest idea can fade to a big nothing.

And, before you know it, your “great idea” fails to detonate.

But coming up with an idea and doing all the work around whether it’s likely to succeed or not is a great exercise for any entrepreneur. It really forces you to fully test your business skills as you actively pursue the answer to the question: is my business idea good or not?

You might come up with a great idea but quickly realise it is not growable. If its a passion project that might be fine with you. If you are wanting to make a living and grow a scalable company then there are some key things you need to consider.

Be clear about what your idea is and who it is for. Do your research, who else is doing this, and how can you do it better.

Your start-up idea might be to sell a product that people would need while they’re in lockdown during the pandemic; for example, craft packs for primary school kids being home schooled. At first, you might attract a fair amount of traffic, but then you start to encounter some growth roadblocks.

Working on a business idea

Signs your business will not grow

There are a few red flags you need to be aware of that will give you the disappointing news your idea can’t possibly grow.

Your business requires a warehouse to hold your products and you also need to employ staff. And, you realise your sales won’t justify forking out the cash for these resources.

You simply don’t have enough cash to fund the growth. Or maybe you lack a true understanding of how you should be marketing your business.

You realise that a large portion of revenue will be coming from a single account. If you happen to lose that account, you are doomed.

If you invest all of your time into your start-up, can you be sure it will elicit scalable results? If not, then you might have to give up on that particular dream.

You are over-consumed by your industry. If you want to avoid roadblocks to growth, remember that everything in the economy is connected in one way or another.

You’re struggling to raise funds for your business idea. If you exhaust all funding avenues and still can’t get the funds you require, it might be time to give the idea a rest.

You might not have the required skillset you really need to run your business. For example, you want to open your own publishing house but you don’t know the first thing about publishing and rarely read books.

Two men working at laptops

Ideas vs execution

We all get great ideas from time to time and think our “brainwave” idea will send us on the road to riches. But there’s a lot of thinking and strategising that needs to take place first.

Your idea might still look fabulous on paper, but if you can’t execute it, you’d be better off putting your hard work into something that will work.

When it comes to success stories, a member of our Fishburners community, Matt Heath, knew he wanted to help make the world a better place and that his mission was going to be all about climate change.

Matt founded “Make Your Change” firstly as an online business, dedicated to educating, motivating, and activating Australians to take meaningful climate action. But Matt knew he was able to grow the business of “climate coaching” to real life events. Now, “Make Your Change” is really changing lives by delivering workshops, training, and coaching services to organisations.

“We hope that by creating engaging experiences with empowering emotions, we can put a climate champion into every office,” Matt says.

Alongside the success stories, it’s also important to learn from your mistakes; especially the ones that never actually made the transition from the lightbulb moment in your head, to an actual business that you might still be dreaming about.  Not all dreams are supposed to come true so make sure you focus on the ones that are most likely to succeed and make you feel great about what you’ve achieved.   There’s always help for you at Fishburners, where founders get the advice, support, learning, tools and a community of peers to help them succeed.

Fishburners is a co-working space and start-up hub in Sydney. This not-for-profit organisation’s mission is to create and support start-ups and small businesses by inspiring, resourcing, educating, supporting and connecting them.