This list by Lisa Williams, founder of placeblogger.com, is a good guide to figuring out whether to take on a project or launch that next big idea.
For reference, here are my personal rules on whether or not I’ll take on a project. If they don’t pass these four tests, I don’t do it.
Don’t do anything for free that you wouldn’t do for free indefinitely. If you do your own startup, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to work for free for some period of time. If you don’t love it enough to do that, you don’t love it enough to devote a couple of years of your life to it.
Startups come and go. Friends and family are forever. Don’t take a project that will move you further away from friends of family, literally or figuratively. I won’t take a project that I think will screw up — or even slightly dent — any relationships in my life. Period.
“Everything About Something.” Good startups are “narrowly comprehensive” — in otherwords, everything about something. A site with a few restaurant reviews is nice. A site with all the restaurant reviews is Yelp.
What can I do without assistance or permission? If I can’t get started on a project without getting a lot of technical assistance, or a lot of money…well, it might be a good startup idea, but it’s probably not a good startup idea for me.
It’s important to note that for me, a startup must pass ALL these tests. Making a project run the gauntlet of these tests cuts out all but a very few ideas.