Hmm, that’s a trick question, right? A great idea needs a team to implement. You don’t sell ideas, you use them to build businesses.
Yes, you really need a business plan, but not to sell the idea. You need to understand the realities of business ideas. They are essentially worthless until they have a company built on top of them. They´re like an idea for a novel or an idea for a movie. People buy the finished product, not the idea. So you need to develop a plan to start the business.
Here are a few hard realities about business ideas:
- You don´t own the idea even if you thought it up yourself. Ideas are not owned. Governments protect inventions with patents and artistic work with copyrights, so people can own patents and copyrights. But there is no legal ownership of an idea.
- The real value of a business anything is what you can sell it for, and you can´t really sell an idea. Many people seem to think they can generate a business idea or a product idea and sell that to a larger company that has the resources to make money with it. That just doesn´t happen.
- If it´s a good idea, it´s already out there. Somebody else is already working on it. Business ideas are like that. When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple Computer there were already two personal computer manufacturing companies in existence and others struggling to start. The idea was obvious. When Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com there were hundred, maybe thousands of others with the same idea.
- You can´t count on legal protection for an idea. Sure, get all the legal protection you can afford, and work with it as well as you can, but don´t count on it. Professional investors can´t afford to sign your non-disclosure documents because the guy with the next appointment might have the same idea. Besides, they don´t want business ideas, they want businesses that can implement ideas. A large manufacturer can´t afford to sign your non-disclosure because its development team might be working on the same idea, so why limit their options.
- Real businesses don´t trade on ideas. So if you have a great business idea, to really make it a success you can´t sell it, you have to make it happen. That´s what your business plan is about.
The value in the idea comes from implementing it, getting a team together to manage, making the required investment, and getting started. That should be the focus of your plan. That´s what Jobs and Wozniak did with Apple Computer — they found investors, hired the team, launched the business and started going. That´s what Jeff Bezos did with Amazon. That´s what you have to do with your idea. Make it happen.
Your business plan helps you focus on simple fundamentals like showing up every day, returning phone calls, and offering value to customers. Business plans for most companies are for laying out the steps, focusing the growth and development, and setting specific milestones for business activities, sales, profits, and cash. The plan has to focus on the fundamentals, not the idea, to be useful.