What Stage Is Your Startup Idea?

1st in a 5-Part Series on the Building Blocks of a Successful Startup

“When did you first get the idea?” I asked.

He answered, “It was six years ago while I was working for an investment banking firm.”

“That’s interesting. My idea came to me five years prior to starting my business,” I said.

Here is how I got there.

The Discovery Stage

In 1993, I started my business in angel investing based on an idea I received from an article I had read five years earlier.

Back then, Fortune Magazine ran a feature article on Ronald Perelman. He used junk-bond financing to take control of private and public companies. The article featured an illustration of the Perelman empire. It included his capstone acquisition Revlon. It also included Coleman company, Sunbeam products, Marvel Entertainment and H. Upmann cigars to name a few.

He owned controlling interests in these companies while working out of a brownstone on the upper East Side in NYC. He developed a team and a formula to accomplish these takeovers and operate them profitably. Over time, he became one of the richest men in the world.

The Doubt Stage

When I read about his business, I knew I wanted to do the same thing but had no idea how. In 1993, I figured it out. I realized I’d been doing this for the corporation I worked for; now I could do it for myself.

The Investigate Stage

I could carve out a niche in professional service organization startups. I would create a back office which would provide a new professional services business with all the support it needed—accounting, contracts and a full-service human resource center. Over time I would partner with first time entrepreneurs who would create these businesses. Once we came to an agreement, they could be in business in 48 hours.

The Now Stage

I put an investment model in place. This model served to accomplish my business goals of producing current income with the potential for capital gains. It also helped professional services entrepreneurs achieve their dream of starting and owning their own company.

The idea was in place but still a bit muddy. The next step…go for it!

Great Ideas Take Time

From idea to business formation could take a day or a decade. I’ve had hundreds of entrepreneurs share their ideas with me over the last 23 years. I believe the more time devoted to the idea, within reason, the greater the opportunity for the idea to become a successful business.

It takes time to think through, research and test your idea.

It takes time to have it become a part of you.

When you take the time to go through the idea stages, you are rewarded with a new vision and, ultimately, a long-term commitment.

You know you have arrived when you cannot not execute on the idea.

Then it is time to quit your job and start the business.

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