I’m not short of business ideas but when I begin working on an idea, there’s no progression, it remains abstract.
Has anyone had similar experiences and what was the process & materials that helped you build upon an idea to an actual business?
Great question, Mathew. It trips up many entrepreneurs. I just wrote an article on this recently, which might help. The biggest dual problem I see with entrepreneurs is either (a) quitting too soon because the data is too vague that they have a market, or (b) going too long when the data clearly says they don't, but they refuse to accept it and cut their losses.
What I would propose is to start with the end in mind. Take some time to visualize what you're actually trying to accomplish in the world with your business idea. Who is the target customer? What problem do they have, as Johny said, that you can solve with your business?
Also, take time to figure out what your financial goals for the first say 6 - 12 months are and how many customers you need to be a sustainable business. If you can't make that threshold, you need to decide in advance whether it's worth it to continue, or pursue a different idea.
Then set a small goal of talking to a set of them (say, 20 or so) and validate that they actually have the problem, and are trying actively to pay for solutions to the problem. If you don't have that, you're not going to get very far.
There's more here that might help. Good luck, and feel free to reach out.
In addition to the answers below, you can equally look for a business mentor who is an expert in business growth and who has achieve much in helping many entrepreneurs to launch their business ideas.
Many business entrepreneurs get stuck along the way because they want to avoid risk and failure and so end up loosing the purpose of the business idea.
You have to put in more determination and know your why in launching this idea if not it won't work.
It took me 4 years to complete my first product, a fitness testing app www.Bodyval.com
The first 2.5 years were spent thinking and working on my fist section of code. The remaining 1.5 years were spent building the product. What happened in that 1.5 years was I decided to take the large idea and build it for one test. as I broke the idea down into manageable goals I ended up feeling more accomplishment and investment into building the product.
So my advice to you is to break down your one large idea into hundreds of small tasks. whiteboard It and identify the things you have to do by each month, week, and daily to feel progress. Sooner than you know you will see the large idea implemented.
#1 "Make something people want." - Y Combinator
#2 You're dealing with a common pattern. It's called "The Messy Middle". I recommend this Tim Ferris interview to learn more: https://tim.blog/2018/09/13/scott-belsky/
PS. Seth Godin calls The Messy Middle, The Dip: https://www.amazon.com/Dip-Little-Book-Teaches-Stick/dp/1591841666
One more thought. Whatever your ideas are, test them first before committing the time and resources to building them. I use LaunchRock.com to create landing pages quickly (and free) describing the value of my product/service ideas. Then spend a little money on advertising the landing page for acquiring leads on Facebook or Google etc depending on your audience.
Better to spend $100 on testing your idea than building first - crickets, and throwing away potentially thousands of dollars.
Having many ideas percolating in your head is not unusual. Some take years for the right catalyst to bring them to life. In my case, I put myself into environments where they have some vague applicability (a conference, working sessions, generic discussions with others in the space) to see if there is something there. It maybe come apparent it is not a valid idea and smothering it to allow something new to pop in can be useful.
Daniel Racowsky had some good advice, which is basically the Minimum Viable Product that you can learn about more by reading up on Lean. There's a book on it, The Lean Startup.
I'd suggest writing down your ideas, focus in on one, research existing solutions and needs and get it as simple as you can, then test. Having people who can give you feedback is very valuable, too.
Reiterating what Josh McCormack said, getting feedback from potential users can be huge. Try finding subreddit's of interests containing communities that might want/need your product/service. But tread carefully because redditors will destroy you if they sense deception or a sales pitch. Be authentic, tell your story, and be clear that you're looking for feedback on an idea that may solve a problem for them.