Smart Ideation to Scale Your Business S14 Ep18

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Great ideas come and go, but what makes an idea into something bigger?  How do you develop your idea into a product that will attract venture capitalists and scale your business?  Is the idea sustainable beyond one or two seasons of growth? Can the idea bloom into a niche market and then cross pollinate?    Patrick Henry, QuestFusion founder and CEO, shares his framework for cultivating ideation that reaps success.  He calls it smart ideation.

smart ideation

Steps to Smart Ideation

Smart ideation is a five-step process for entrepreneurs and business owners building a growth company.  The process focuses on business factors rather than simply developing the product.  Patrick’s book, Plan, Commit, Win: 90 Days to Creating a Fundable Startup, lays out the framework for smart ideation.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Customer Problem Solution TestThis test answers three questions:
    • Is it a big and important problem for the customer?
    • Is the customer desperate to solve the problem?
    • Is my solution superior to alternatives?
  1. Sustainable Competitive Advantage TestOnce you answer yes to the questions in #1…
    • How do you sustain business growth over time?
    • What is your innovation roadmap for the next five to ten years?
    • Can your core technology penetrate adjacent product market segments?
    • Can you build layers of competitive advantage?
  1. The Intersection Test

    Facing the challenges to scale your business, you need an intersection of

    • Passion
    • Domain expertise – specialized product and market knowledge
    • A big customer problem
    • A team who can execute
  1. The Market Size and Growth Test

    Applies to businesses funded by venture capital

    • Success or failure hinges on this
    • Must determine growth opportunity in your target market
    • Penetrate a defensible niche, then conquer adjacent markets
    • Have a big long-term vision to scale your business
    • VCs looking for upwards of $100 million in annual revenue
  1. The Idea Refinement Test 

    Three ways to refine your idea.

    • Through intimate customer engagement
    • Through a technical and business advisory board that will provide unbiased feedback
    • Through teaching customers willing to provide feedback early on in exchange for some exclusive benefit

Qualities of a Successful Ideator

Along with the smart ideation process, consider what makes a successful ideator.  Patrick sees the successful ideator as one with a unique perspective and perpetual curiosity.  They are the tinkerers, gadget users, early adopters who come up with new ways of doing things.  These people are disciplined, hardworking, and passionate.

Are you ready to scale your business, to bring it to the next level?  For more information on smart ideation, go to  For a detailed guide to smart ideation, go to

Find Patrick on Twitter: @questfusion, Facebook: @questfusion, and Instagram: @plancommitwin.

Five Minutes to New Ideas

How do you address customer complaints? Are they an annoyance to dismiss and be done with? Don’t make the mistake major companies have made minimizing or ignoring complaints. It may come back to haunt you. Be proactive in addressing customer issues. Listen to this week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas for insight on this important topic..
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