How To Spot A Million Dollar Idea

How To Spot A Million Dollar Idea
How To Spot A Million Dollar Idea

Thousands of new businesses are set up everyday with one or two people as partners. Irrespective of the number of individuals that make up these businesses, only a few of them will make it to a million dollar status, and extreme droplets from the remaining few will make it to a billion dollar status.

While the achievements of some businesses majorly come as a surprise to many other smaller or failed business owners, to some of the successful founders, they’d say they always expected to make it big.

This occurrence always lends credence to the phrase; “hope is not strategy”, and that if you fail to plan, you’ve already planned to fail.

How then do some people find a million dollar idea? Could it be sheer luck? Or just a once in a lifetime mistake?

From the lives of Africa’s and the world’s most successful multi-millionaires and billionaires, some patterns to finding the right business ideas have mostly been consistent. While a few indeed got lucky and built something everyone instantly loved (e.g Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook), 99% of the remaining population would have to stick to the true tenets of entrepreneurship to spot a million dollar idea.

See Also: The 5 Critical Stages You Will Go Through As An Entrepreneur


Here Are 6 Powerful Steps To Spot A Million Dollar Idea:


Step 1: Start By Paying Attention:

The most successful startup ideas are usually discovered, not just dreamt. They’re born out of a conscious or unconscious observation of everything around us.

When you live life too fast, you pay less attention to the details. You wake up in the morning, rush off to the bus station, get to work, drown yourself in your duties for the day, rush back to the bus station, then when you get back home, you either eat a meal and sleep-off, or you sleep-off without having anything to eat.

The only thing this routine will guarantee, is you’ll never have the time to discover yourself or what could make you a better person. This is the major reason college students always have the coolest ideas. They mostly have nothing else but school work to worry about. So the few amongst them that are really trying to start something, think up great ideas easier because of the amount of free time they’ve got.

How then do you fix this? You need to not just focus on your job, but on everything else you do. As you head out in the morning, watch what’s happening. Every little experience you go through should be observed.

As you gradually begin to become more aware of yourself, your actions, and your reactions, you’d begin to understand not just the little things that affect you, but what problems other people like you or not, experience. You’d also better notice what affects your organisation, where they’re handicapped, and where they could improve.

It would also mean spending sometime on social media to see what people are talking about, how some are acting, reacting, and responding to various events, trends, and a lot more.

With these observatory parameters in place, you’d know you’re one step closer to discovering a million dollar idea.

See Also: 10 Lucrative Small Business Ideas That Will Make You The Next Millionaire


Step 2: Question Everything:

As you begin to observe everything around you, the next important thing is to question most of the things that happen. Ask questions like;

  • Why do we have to wait on long queues to get a bus?
  • Why can’t be allowed to work from home?
  • Why do we have to use a lot of paper-works at the office?
  • Why must I always go out at lunch time to buy a meal, instead of it coming to me?

The questions are endless.

Asking questions make you aware that a solution could exist, that there could be a different way to do things, that you don’t have to accept the status quo, and that people don’t even know they have problems.

By asking questions, you open yourself up to endless possibilities, to a universe of untapped knowledge, and to the realization that if you could answer your questions in a way most people would understand, then you could have a go at building an uncertain million dollar idea.

Remember: Always ask why.

See Also: The 10 Biggest Fears Of Successful People That They Never Tell Anyone About


Step 3: Pick A Popular But Ignored Problem:

After asking a lot of questions and figuring out some answers, you should have a short list of possible ideas you could try out in your organisation, local environment, or country.

What you need to do next is to carefully analyse which problem you want to solve that has the highest chance of consumer acceptance.

In selecting a problem to solve, you need to consider one thing; the fact that the solution you’re introducing must stand a good chance of changing your prospective customers habit loop.

What does this even mean anyway?

What triggers a person’s unconscious behaviour is the habit loop. This occurs in three phases; a cue, a routine, and a reward.

When a smoker for instance sees a pack of cigars, he/she could feel inclined to smoke. Here, the pack of cigars is the cue (trigger). When he/she smokes it, he’s/she’s basically carrying out his/her routine. Then the relief he/she feels after smoking the full cigar is the reward.

To change this smoker’s habit, you’d have to create a different routine that subsequently happens when the smoker sees the pack of cigars, instead of the usual smoking routine. This is important because habits cannot be removed, they can only be replaced.

This model has been honed to perfection by various brands. A big example is the air freshener called Frebreze. It only eventually became a success (after years of failed marketing trials) in the US after they created a campaign that made people feel a sense of accomplishment after cleaning up a house, by spraying the air freshener. Because of this end result, most Americans then would want to clean up just so their homes could have the Frebreze scent of freshness as a reward for their efforts.

This also happens with soda. People generally anticipate the relief the chilled taste of their favourite brand has, after it has gone down their throats, and so, always lookout to either buy a bottle of chilled Coke or Pepsi when they’re in traffic.

A personal experience that helped me break a lazy habit of not doing my dishes every morning before I clocked my twenties, was to always boil a kettle of water before I had my bath. During the boiling period, I’d quickly take care of the dirty dishes, and by the time the water was boiled, I’d have been done. If there was no gas to boil water, I’d leave the dishes that way, have my bath with cold water, and leave the house. Now, introducing the water boiling routine, was the solution to my dirty dish problem. I still do this till date.

How then can this be applied to a business?

By introducing a catalyst product to replace an existing routine people already carry out, your product has a higher chance of success. If instead, you intend to change everything about their way of life like removing the trigger, the routine, and introducing a new reward, your product would definitely fail.

I wrote a more detailed article about the power of habits over people, and how you can take advantage of it to sell more products here.


Step 4: Attempt A Sale Without A Product:

This is where it starts to get very real. If you can sell a product to someone without anything to show for it at that time, and the person is restless until you bring it over for them to confirm if it’s really as good you claimed (and subsequently make a purchase), then you’ve got a winner!

Where many entrepreneurs get it wrong is when they begin to manufacture or purchase a lot of items without knowing if there’s really anyone that wants what they have to offer. This move raises your chances of a failed investment by over 70%.

If no one tries to buy your product or service without even seeing it, then it’s probably a waste of time moving on with that project. Don’t risk it! Whatever it is, could be far from been called a million dollar idea.

But still, there are always very rare exceptions.

See Also: How To Sell An Expensive Product


Step 5: Do A Market Research:

After acquiring your first customer without any form of seed funding, the next step is to do a thorough market research to know the real potential size of your market.

You could carry out your market analysis by going through a step by step process I’ve detailed earlier in an article here, or by hiring the services of a market research company.

Another thing you could do to know the potential size of your market and the possible reactions, is to take advantage of freely published market research reports. These reports usually cover a detailed market study of a particular region, and how they respond to several marketing strategies.

Once you have done a comprehensive market research for your idea, and are convinced that there’s a minimum acceptable market size for what you’re planning to start up, you can go to the next phase of executing your million dollar idea.


Step 6: Launch!

Here’s where the real hustle begins. With your products or services out in the wild seeking oxygen (customers, money, etc) to survive, it’s up to you to ensure it lives up to its expectations.

If you’ve followed through the process of how to spot a million dollar idea thoroughly, you’d have a more confident approach after your product or service launches.

At this point, you would try out different marketing strategies, media stunts, and have several brainstorming sessions. Your success here would be highly determined by a number of factors. There’d also be a lot of competition springing up once they realise you’ve got a business model that works.

But in the end, may the best man or woman win!

See Also: 10 Amazing Small Business Growth Strategies



It’s important to know that although these processes are crucial for spotting a million dollar idea, there are, and will always be exceptions. Yours could be one.

Finally, you should know that “no idea is entirely worth a million dollars, but a great business built around a single idea can be worth a million dollars with the right team, in the right place, and at the right time.”


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What are your thoughts on this article on how to spot a million dollar idea? Let me know by leaving a comment below.


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Stan Edom
Stan Edom
I'm an entrepreneur with expertise in supply chain management, international trade, small business development, e-commerce, internet startups, renewable energy, and agriculture. I'm also a network engineer, I.T security expert, and computer programmer. In my spare time when I'm not working out at the gym, I try to solve problems people face in their everyday lives with whatever means necessary.

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  1. Beautiful piece…..i appreciate your research and commitment. Learning a lot from your site. It’s been helpful and there’s more potential, God bless you, when we build that million dollar business, I pray not to forget where I learned a lot from!!
    Phil is the name, an I’m not young enterprenuer!!!

    • Thank you Phil for the commendations and blessings.

      God bless you too.

      Wish you the best in your business endeavours.

      Have a wonderful time!

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