For my start up in 7 day challenge, I needed an idea.  An idea which could be done quickly, an idea which had mass appeal, an idea which didn’t require a lot of new learning – in short an idea which was quick to market and easy to develop.  Most people have a brilliant idea already, but if you don’t and you’re keen to start something up, consider joining a networking group like ASIX or check out idea-a-day and Springwise for inspiration.

So what makes a good idea? I believe a good idea needs to have the following:

  • It needs to fill a need.
    Quite simply, people have to have a need for your idea; the need provides the demand.
  • It needs to be simple.
    Can you explain your idea in 30 seconds or less? If you can’t, it’s probably too complicated – break it down and look at the smaller bits in isolation – you can always expand later.
  • It needs to be profitable.
    Unless you want to give things away, your idea must be priced right and profitable.  Your income must exceed your expenses and people must be willing to pay your price.
  • You must believe.
    The most important aspect, you must believe in your idea and be passionate about what you’re doing.

To meet the challenge, the idea must also be achievable in 7 days and be done for under $500.

I had a few ideas on the back shelf which satisfy the above and I think could be accomplished, but one of them stuck out in particular.  A while back I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who runs his own IT business.  He was frustrated by how inefficient and ‘old school’ paperback log books were for working out mileages.  He would have to write in his mileage at the end of each trip, transpose this information to a spreadsheet, then calculate his Business Use Percentage manually.  If he missed just a couple of trips a month, he could miss out on huge tax deductions. (With his $30k car, missing 1 in 10 trips would mean he could miss out on $1000 of deductions.)  So what about an online system for doing this? Since everyone now has a phone, what about the ability of updating it by SMS? Brilliant!

So the idea is “an online logbook for managing car mileage for tax purposes, updated by SMS”.  Lets look at how it fits the criteria:

  • Need.
    Yep, there are 7 million Australians who claim work related deductions at tax time, and with people spending more time at work there is a need to improve efficiency.
  • Simple.
    “Manage your car mileage by sms and receive automatic tax statement at the end of the year” – 10 seconds, so yes again.
  • Profitable.
    A quick estimate (more on this later) and the only outgoings are bank fees, hosting, domain name and the mobile number, so if priced right a monthly service fee should cover this.
  • Belief.
    I love building things, I love helping others, I love solving problems with technology, and I love a challenge.  An online system for managing mileage is a fantastic idea and I could potentially help others get the most out of their returns.  (Yes)

Finally, does it meet the challenge?

  • The challenge
    7 days is a stretch but as I had the necessary skills and bits of past projects I could use then I believe I can do it. For under 500 bucks? The beauty of an online service is the outgoings are cheap, so yes.

So I have an idea, I have a way forward, so now onto some research!

Filed under:   7 day startup   autocarlog   challenge   start up