The other day I had an interesting conversation. It is really a similar conversation that I have with most people when they find out I have online businesses. Most people want to start something or think they have a good idea for a product online. As the conversation goes on it usually is exhausting to find out after some time of teaching that most people have no idea where to start because they lack the basic research skills. I think if you were to break down the process of developing an idea into a business thinks would be much easier and you would be able to sort out the good ideas from the not so good ideas. So here is how I do it, I break the thought pattern down into phases. Idea phase I take an idea that I think is interesting and first figure out how I can take it from the idea stage to a “beginning” online presence. This involves figuring out where to either purchase the product or manufacture the product. I make no attempt to being any sort of operation. I then get out the pen and paper and make a beginners budget that shows me if the product has some profit margin potential. If the basic math shows at least a 20 to 25% profit margin I move on to phase two. A sample budget includes these items: Initial stock for a test run Website domain setup Website optimization plan (basic) Sample marketing plan Sample set up Phase If the numbers look decent, I then go to the test phase where we set up the site and set up the product. If I am sourcing the product I am not super concerned with the details of getting an amazing price. This is a detail. I am looking to build a sample SYSTEM, which is key. Tweaking the system is not until the next phase. At this point I can easily abandon the idea if the system is not developed properly or insufficient from a time point of view. After the system is set up we move to the next phase. Marketing Phase We next try to attain a small piece of the pie, or if no market is defined, create a small demand for testing purposes. This is where some sort of gimmick novelty is used. All Marketing ideas including Ebay are explored. In this phase I also keep in mind that there needs to be a good potential for tweaking the system which involves getting better prices and suppliers.