As an aspiring entrepreneur, you’ve likely been searching for that one idea that will propel your startup to success. However, it’s not enough to simply have an idea; you need to be able to determine if it has the potential to become a thriving business. By understanding key factors such as market size, competition, founder-market fit, and more, you’ll be better equipped to determine whether your idea has the necessary elements to flourish in the ever-competitive world of entrepreneurship.

To effectively evaluate your startup idea, we’ll go over ten key questions you should ask yourself. These questions are designed to help you think critically about your idea, assess its strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately determine if it’s worth pursuing. By addressing these questions honestly and thoroughly, you’ll not only gain a deeper understanding of your own idea but also develop the ability to think like an investor. This skill will prove invaluable as you navigate the entrepreneurial landscape and work towards building a successful startup.

Remember, the goal isn’t to find the perfect idea; instead, it’s about identifying an idea that holds promise and has the potential to evolve and grow over time. By learning how to evaluate your startup ideas effectively, you’ll increase your chances of success and set yourself on the path to entrepreneurial achievement.

1. Do You Have Founder-Market Fit?

Founder-market fit is a critical component to consider when evaluating your startup idea. It refers to the alignment between your skills, experiences, and passions with the market and industry you’re planning to enter. A strong founder-market fit increases the chances of your startup’s success because it means you have the necessary knowledge and expertise to navigate the challenges and opportunities within your chosen market.

To assess your founder-market fit, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I have relevant industry experience or expertise?

Having firsthand knowledge of the market can give you a significant advantage when it comes to understanding customer needs, anticipating trends, and identifying opportunities.

Am I passionate about this market or problem?

Passion is a driving force behind successful entrepreneurship. It helps you stay motivated, overcome obstacles, and maintain your commitment to your startup’s mission.

Can I leverage my network to help my startup succeed?

A strong network of industry connections can provide valuable resources, advice, and introductions to potential partners or investors.

Do I have the skills required to build and grow a company in this market?

Assess your technical, managerial, and leadership abilities to ensure you have what it takes to succeed in your chosen industry.

By honestly evaluating your founder-market fit, you’ll gain a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as they relate to your startup idea. This self-awareness will allow you to make more informed decisions about whether to move forward with your idea or seek out opportunities that better align with your background and expertise.

2. How Big is the Market?

Evaluating the market size for your startup idea is crucial, as it determines the potential for growth and profitability. A large and growing market offers more opportunities for your business to scale, whereas a small or stagnant market might limit your potential for success. To assess the market size, you need to consider the following factors:

Total Addressable Market (TAM)

TAM refers to the maximum revenue you could generate if you captured the entire market for your product or service. This figure helps you understand the scale of the opportunity and the potential for growth.

Serviceable Available Market (SAM)

SAM is the portion of the TAM that your business can realistically serve, considering factors such as geographic constraints, distribution channels, and target customer segments. It provides a more accurate picture of the market size you can realistically capture.

Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM)

SOM represents the market share you can realistically achieve in the short term, considering your resources and competition. It helps you set realistic goals and projections for your startup’s early stages.

To estimate these figures, conduct market research using industry reports, government statistics, and other relevant data sources. Additionally, validate your assumptions by talking to potential customers, industry experts, and competitors. This research will help you better understand the market size, growth potential, and competitive landscape, allowing you to make more informed decisions about pursuing your startup idea.

3. How Acute is this Problem?

Determining the severity of the problem your startup aims to solve is crucial for understanding the potential demand for your product or service. An acute problem is one that has a significant impact on your target customers, causing them to urgently seek solutions. If your idea addresses a pressing need, it is more likely to gain traction quickly and attract customers who are willing to pay for the solution. To evaluate the acuteness of the problem, consider the following:

Pain points

Identify the pain points your target customers experience and how your solution addresses them. The more significant the pain points, the more urgent the need for a solution, and the more likely customers are to adopt your product or service.


How often do your target customers encounter the problem? Frequent issues tend to be more acute, as they have a more substantial impact on people’s lives and businesses.


What are the consequences of the problem going unsolved? If the problem’s impact is severe, customers will be more motivated to seek out and adopt solutions, increasing the likelihood of your startup’s success.


Are there existing solutions to the problem? If the market is saturated with alternatives, your solution may need to be significantly better or different to stand out and be successful. If there are few or no alternatives, the problem may be more acute, and customers will be more receptive to your solution.

By evaluating these factors, you can gauge the acuteness of the problem your startup aims to solve and make more informed decisions about whether to pursue your idea.

4. Do You Have Competition?

Competition is an important factor to consider when evaluating the viability of your startup idea. While competition can be a signal that there’s a market for your product or service, it can also mean that you’ll need to work harder to differentiate your offering and capture market share. Here are some points to consider when analyzing your competition:

Market saturation

Is the market already flooded with similar products or services? If so, your idea may struggle to gain traction unless you can offer a significantly better or unique solution. On the other hand, a lack of competition can indicate an untapped market opportunity, but it might also mean that there’s no demand for your solution.


How does your product or service differ from the competition? Your offering should provide unique value to customers, whether through innovative features, a better user experience, or a more attractive price point. Analyze your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses to identify opportunities for differentiation.

Barriers to entry

Are there significant barriers to entry in your market, such as high capital requirements, complex regulations, or established brand loyalty? These factors can make it more difficult for new entrants to succeed and should be carefully considered when evaluating your idea.

Competitive landscape

Research the current players in your market, including direct and indirect competitors, and assess their market share, growth, and overall performance. This information can help you understand the dynamics of the market and identify potential opportunities or threats to your startup.

By considering these aspects of competition, you can better understand the market landscape and make more informed decisions about pursuing your startup idea.

5. Do You Really Want This?

Passion and personal commitment are critical factors in the success of any startup. Before you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, it’s important to ask yourself if you genuinely want to pursue your idea. Here are some questions to help you determine whether you’re truly invested in your startup:

Personal connection

Does your idea resonate with you on a personal level? Having a strong connection to the problem you’re solving can be a powerful motivator, driving you to work tirelessly to achieve your goals.

Long-term commitment

Are you prepared to dedicate several years of your life to building your startup? Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint, and you’ll need to be ready for the highs and lows that come with running a business.


Are you passionate about your idea and the impact it could have on the world? This passion will not only fuel your determination but also help you inspire and motivate your team.

Willingness to learn

Are you open to learning and growing throughout your entrepreneurial journey? Success in entrepreneurship requires adaptability, resilience, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes.

Personal sacrifice

Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices to bring your idea to life? Launching a startup often involves long hours, financial risks, and personal sacrifices in terms of relationships and work-life balance.

By reflecting on these questions, you can assess whether you truly want to pursue your idea and are prepared for the challenges that come with entrepreneurship.

6. Did This Only Recently Become Possible or Necessary?

One critical question to ask when evaluating your startup idea is whether it has only recently become possible or necessary. This question helps you identify whether your idea is poised to capitalize on a new market opportunity, technology, or societal trend.

If your idea has become possible due to recent technological advancements, it can be a strong indicator that you are on the cutting edge of innovation. These innovations can create new markets or disrupt existing ones, giving your startup a competitive advantage. For instance, the emergence of smartphones and mobile internet has enabled the rapid growth of the sharing economy, paving the way for companies like Uber and Airbnb.

Similarly, changes in societal trends or needs can create new business opportunities. For example, the increasing awareness of environmental issues has led to a surge in demand for sustainable products and services, opening up new market segments for eco-friendly startups.

However, it’s essential to balance the potential opportunities with the risks associated with being an early entrant into a new market. While there may be less competition and a chance to establish a strong market position, it can also be challenging to convince customers to adopt new solutions or change their behaviors.

When evaluating if your idea has only recently become possible or necessary, consider the driving factors behind this shift and assess whether your startup is well-positioned to seize the opportunity while navigating the challenges associated with being a market pioneer.

7. Are There Good Proxies for This Business?

A proxy is a comparable business or market that can help you gauge the potential success of your startup idea. Analyzing proxies can give you insights into market trends, customer behavior, and the competitive landscape, allowing you to make more informed decisions as you develop your product or service. Here are some questions to consider when identifying suitable proxies for your business:

Similar business models

Are there existing businesses with a similar model to yours? If so, study their successes and failures to understand what works and what doesn’t. By learning from their experiences, you can avoid making the same mistakes and find new opportunities for growth.

Adjacent industries

Are there companies in adjacent industries that share similar customer segments or address similar problems? Studying these businesses can provide insights into the market dynamics and customer preferences that could apply to your startup.

Market trends

Are there any trends in the market that support the growth of businesses like yours? Identifying and capitalizing on these trends can help you position your startup for success.

Regulatory environment

Are there any regulatory factors that could impact the viability of your business? Understanding the legal and regulatory landscape is crucial for avoiding costly mistakes and ensuring compliance.

By evaluating proxies for your business, you can gain valuable insights and make data-driven decisions as you develop and refine your startup idea. This process can help you identify potential challenges, uncover untapped opportunities, and ultimately, determine if your idea is worth pursuing.

8. Is This an Idea You’d Want To Work on for Years?

When embarking on the entrepreneurial journey, it’s crucial to consider whether your startup idea is something you’d be passionate about working on for years. Building a successful business often takes a significant amount of time, effort, and dedication. Here are some points to ponder when evaluating your long-term commitment to your idea:

Personal connection

Do you have a strong personal connection to the problem you’re solving or the market you’re entering? A deep-rooted passion for your idea can be a powerful motivator that keeps you going during tough times.

Sustainable interest

Can you envision yourself maintaining interest in this idea over the long haul? It’s essential to consider if your passion is fleeting or if it’s a lasting interest that can keep you engaged throughout the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey.


Does your idea have the potential for long-term growth and expansion? If your business can scale and evolve over time, it can help maintain your motivation and interest as new challenges and opportunities arise.


Will your idea make a meaningful difference in the lives of your customers or the world at large? If your startup has the potential to create a positive impact, it can be easier to stay committed and passionate about your work.

Considering these factors will help you evaluate whether your idea is one that you’d want to work on for years. Being genuinely excited about and committed to your startup will not only increase your chances of success but also make the entrepreneurial journey a more fulfilling and rewarding experience.

9. Is This a Scalable Business?

Evaluating the scalability of your business idea is crucial for long-term success. Scalability refers to the ability of your business to grow and expand without significant increases in cost, time, or resources. Here are some factors to consider when assessing the scalability of your idea:

Market size

Is there a large enough market for your product or service to allow for substantial growth? A bigger market often provides more opportunities to scale your business and reach a wider audience.

Repeat business and customer retention

Can you build a loyal customer base that will continue to purchase from you over time? Repeat business and strong customer retention rates can be key drivers of scalable growth.

Automation and technology

Can you leverage technology and automation to streamline your operations and reduce manual work? Efficient processes can help your business scale more quickly and cost-effectively.

Network effects

Does your business model benefit from network effects, where the value of your product or service increases as more people use it? Examples of businesses with strong network effects include social media platforms and marketplace websites.


Can your business model easily expand into new markets, regions, or product lines? Flexibility and adaptability can make it easier to scale your business as new opportunities arise.

By evaluating these factors, you can determine whether your idea has the potential to become a scalable business. Pursuing a scalable idea can lead to significant growth, greater profits, and a more sustainable business over time.

10. Is This a Good Idea Space?

A good idea space refers to the overall environment in which your startup will operate. Assessing the idea space is essential to understand whether your business has the potential to thrive and create value in the long run. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating the quality of your idea space:

Industry dynamics

Is the industry you’re entering experiencing growth, stagnation, or decline? A growing industry typically offers more opportunities for new entrants, while a declining one may present significant challenges.

Regulatory environment

Are there any regulatory hurdles or barriers to entry that may impact your business? Understanding the regulatory landscape can help you identify potential challenges and adapt your strategy accordingly.

Competitive landscape

What is the level of competition within your target market? A highly competitive space may be difficult to penetrate, while a less competitive one may present an opportunity to carve out a niche.

Innovation and disruption

Is the industry prone to rapid innovation and disruption? If so, this can create both opportunities and threats, as established players may struggle to adapt while new entrants can capitalize on emerging trends.

Macro trends

Are there broader social, economic, or technological trends that will influence the success of your business? Staying informed about these trends can help you anticipate changes in the market and make more informed strategic decisions.

By considering these factors, you can determine whether your idea exists within a good idea space that is conducive to the growth and success of your business.


1. Do You Have Founder Market Fit?

If no – pass, if yes – continue on

2. How Big is the Market?

If small – pass, if big – continue on

3. How Acute is This Problem?

If not acute – find another idea, if acute – continue on

4. Do You Have Competition?

If the market is saturated – pass, if none to some competition exists – continue on

5. Do You Really Want This?

If no – pass, if yes – continue on

6. Did This Only Recently Become Possible or Necessary?

If no – skip this question, if yes – weigh the risks before continuing on

7. Are There Good Proxies for This Business?

If no – skip this question, if yes – analyze before continuing on

8. Is This an Idea You’d Want To Work on for Years?

If no – pass, if yes – continue on

9. Is This a Scaleable Business?

If no – pass, If yes – continue on

10. Is This a Good Idea Space?

If no – pass, If yes – continue on

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.