Ideas are easy – making them work is what counts

It's one thing to have an idea - it's much more difficult to make it a success.

Dragon’s Den is a pop culture cauldron full of new ideas. We watch with bated breath as the intrepid entrepreneurs face the formidable Peter Jones and the team to pitch their business plans. They are scrutinised, questioned, idea analysed, all in the hope that the holy grail of investment is achieved.

But in many ways, the ideas are the easy part. We’ve all had them. What is important for an entrepreneur is making them implementable. And that means getting the right advice, training, coaching or mentoring to ensure your light bulb moment has the best chance to grow into a successful, robust, and long-term profitable enterprise. 

So how do you know what help you need if you are at that early stage? Back to to those Dragons.

When we discuss ‘pitching’ with entrepreneurs it’s usually considered a means to an end. A way to secure a sale, or investment. What if you turned the ‘pitch’ around and used it as a tool to test for yourself if your idea is ready to become a product or business? Apply the ‘pitch test’ to your idea.

The act of collecting the information you need for your pitch, becoming your own ‘devil’s advocate’ and imagining a ‘dragon’ scrutinising your plans, allows you to identify weak spots, gaps in your plan and ultimately what it takes to make your idea real.  

How would you grab the attention of your customer or investor or potential business partner? Can you stop them in their tracks by provoking an emotional response?

Using stats, or market trends, can you ensure you cut through the noise and make them sit up and listen to what you have to say?

Is your idea their solution? Innovation of thought is important here, keeping attention and interest while succinctly outlining why your idea is the answer to the problem, or meets the opportunity.

Awareness and knowledge of the market is critical. Planning and forethought are required to develop a strong pitch – cost, timescale, scalability, ultimate market size, pricing, and future potential developments.

All ideas are vulnerable, to competition, IP challenges, market change, production capability, supply chain issues – you need to know these risks, fully understand them and mitigate for them. 

Already the tasks, research, and challenges are stacking up. Very rarely does one person possess all the skills, knowledge, and experience to do everything needed to get an idea off the ground successfully.

It may well become clear from ‘the pitch test’ that you don’t yet have all the answers. Your inner voice could start to sound doubtful, and you might find yourself second-guessing whether your idea was so brilliant after all. This is where the four pillars of support – advice, training, coaching, and mentoring - become essential to every entrepreneur looking to turn an idea into a real business proposition.

  • Advice - you ask the question, somebody else answers it
  • Training - you ask the question and undertake a training course to learn the answer
  • Coaching - you ask the question, and you’re guided to find your own answer
  • Mentoring - you ask the question, the mentor answers it with a mix of advice and experience

One of the biggest benefits of accessing the four support pillars all available from our team at SAC Consulting, is there is no right or wrong order; what you need as an entrepreneur one month, may change entirely by the next. We are lucky Scotland has a wide variety of support available from many sources, take advantage of this wherever possible.

These include THRIVE – a weekend school for budding food & drink and rural entrepreneurs. This collaborative initiative, delivered by SRUC, SAC Consulting and Queen Margaret University, is well-versed in the commercial reality of the sector and will be launching details of the upcoming programme for autumn 2024, shortly.  

What is clear is that if you are an entrepreneur or a budding start-up with an idea, don’t leave asking the questions to other people. Ask them of yourself first -what support do I need now and where can I get it?

Kerry Hammond & Ceri Ritchie are Principal Consultants at SAC Consulting. For more information on THRIVE visit THRIVE Programme | Scottish Centre for Food Development Innovation | Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh (


Posted by Kerry Hammond & Ceri Ritchie on 14/05/2024

Tags: SAC Consulting, Business Management, Enterprise
Categories: Consulting and Commercial