Editor’s note: Lea Strickland, chief executive officer of F.O.C.U.S. Resources, is an international business consultant, author, speaker, and commentator on business issues and trends.

CARY – “Any good idea will get funded.” This statement is true and also frequently stated. There is a companion statement which often goes unsaid, perhaps because it is believed to be "common sense" or "understood". Here it is: Any good idea must, by definition, include certain key components:

• Market demand

• Market of sufficient size to support a profitable business or product line

• Market willing to pay a price which includes a profit

• Marketing know-how to reach and persuade the key purchasers

• Business know-how to deal with all the requirements of becoming a successful enterprise

All good ideas get funded…when they have sound business behind them and savvy teams to put those ideas in front of the right people. Getting good ideas funded is about being able to communicate the good idea in its entirety to the market, to strategic partners, and to potential funders. It is about the team, the story, the opportunity, the mechanics of business. It can never be about only the "good idea". There are millions of ideas. The good ones are the ones people know how to make happen.

Getting Your Good Idea Funded

So you have a good idea. You know it. "Everyone" you know agrees with you. Reality check – You’ve been out making the pitches to potential investors, but the money just isn’t materializing, so not "everyone" agrees…at least not yet. When you have a good idea and you can’t get funding, then it is time to analyze the process, the product, and the package you have been selling. Because when a good idea can’t get funded, something is missing from the “good idea package”.

If the customer isn’t buying, you have to do something differently – change the message, repackage, reposition. If you still cannot find others willing to fund it, reevaluate your concept, your business model. If you are still convinced this is a good idea, find a way to self-fund with personal assets or through other streams of revenue.

So you haven’t been able to raise capital for your good idea, why aren’t investors lining up to give you their money? What is missing from your good idea’s "definition"?

Filling out the Definition

1. Define the good idea from a business prospective. Tell the story of how you will make money. Tell the market need, why they will buy from you, and how much they will pay, Demonstrate you know how to build a business which can deliver the product, one people will want to do business with!

2. Know your strengths and limitations. If you don’t know business, then know someone who does. Who and where is the team working with and for you. You have to execute. Who is going to be in the trenches with you, getting the idea to reality and practicality? Who will be knocking on doors, packing boxes, making calls, emptying trash cans, making copies and coffee? Who will be editing PowerPoint presentations and going to the bank to make deposits?, Who is going to be up nights and running around all day making things happen?! ! ! ? ? ?

3. Show how people will find you. So you have a good idea. So you can build a better widget, gadget, gizmo. And yes, it works. So you have a sound business model. What is your marketing plan? How are you going to get noticed? Where is that first customer and the next? Why are they going to buy from you, not keep doing what they are currently doing or buy from the other guy?

4. Tell how much they are going to be willing to pay. How often and how many times are they going to buy? Will they be a one-time customer or a life-long customer? What is the value of the customer? Do you understand sales and revenue? Show the investor the money they are going to make because the business will be able to generate sales.

5. Know how much you are going to make on each product and each customer. Where’s the profit? What’s the bottom-line. The potential investor needs to know the price your product will command versus the cost of producing the product. The investor wants to know the full cost including sales, marketing, administration, development, production, and everything else it takes to get the product out the door.

6. Be clear about the business risks. How sensitive is the price of your product to competitors pricing? Are any of your needed resources scarce, extremely expensive, or price sensitive? Are you dependent on a single supplier for some component or service? Do you have any operating constraints due to legal agreements or other factors?

7. Name your team. Are you good at business AND the technical side? What skills do you need that you don’t already have? How are you going to get them?

8. Determine additional needed resources. Do you need equipment, facilities, and technology? What about money? How much? When? What types – debt, equity, and non-dilutive sources like grants?

9. Outline the market potential for alliances with vendors, customers, and others. Who are they, and what could those relationships look like? How would they be pursued and what would they do for the business and the product/technology? Why would these other organizations be interested – what do you have to offer they want/need?

10. Show when you will make money. What are the numbers? How fast will you be spending money (burn rate)? When will you break even (money in = money out)? When will you be cash positive (money in > money out)? When will you be sustaining – cash positive and profitable? When will the business be able to get a return to investors (exit strategies, dividends, buyouts, etc.)?

An idea is only potential if it doesn’t have someone to take the idea and turn it into a viable “product”, to put an organization behind it which can deliver it at a return that makes the investment better than the alternatives. If you have a “good idea”, then you need to make it fundable. How do you do that? Make it a product which interests the market, offered by a viable business! You have to make it visible to the market. You have to be capable of running the business. You have to develop both the business and the product in the marketplace, then compete against the alternatives – compete for funding, for resources, and for customers. Ultimately, you, your product, your business, your idea have to be credible to get funded. So take your good idea and get it funded! Make it viable. Get visible. Demonstrate capability. Build your credibility by having the answers and a plan. “Any good idea can get funded.” IF it has reality, action, and substance behind it.

Copyright © 2007 F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.