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updated: 5/12/2014 7:49 AM

One question every start up entrepreneur must answer

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Regardless of the product or service, every starting-up entrepreneur must answer this question: Will someone write a check -- actually buy the great idea you're planning to bring to the marketplace?

The answer for Lomesh Shah and what today is NonProfitEasy Inc., a Rohnert Park, CA, company that provides data management software for nonprofits, was a resounding "Yes."

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"I'll give you a sweet (licensing) deal if you will help me start this company," was Shah's pitch to a group of nonprofits when he was looking for both validation and dollars for NPE. Thirteen of 15 nonprofits wrote checks.

A co-founder of IQR Consulting, a data analytics company with U.S. offices in Santa Rosa, CA, and a small business mentor at SoCo Nexus, a Rohnert Park organization that focuses on sustainable resources, medical technology, cloud based technology, and manufacturing, and is something of a California version of a Midwestern incubator, Shah has the chops to talk about entrepreneurial issues.

More importantly, Shah has some interesting points, including the often-overlooked fact that at some time the start up business owner must determine whether anyone will care about that great idea.

Part of the issue is understanding the marketplace and what you may bring.

"You must know how your idea fits in," Shah says.

"You may be able to do X, Y and Z, but if (your research shows that) Y and Z are being taken care of and X needs fixing," then your entrepreneurial path seems clear.

"Make sure the idea you have has legs," Shah continues.

"Not all great ideas are money makers -- and not all money makers are great ideas. Validate your idea. It will make your journey easier."

In a guest blog at techie-buzz.com, Shah writes that "being an entrepreneur is not about looking for the next big thing, it's about looking for opportunities that ... can change the way things are currently done.

"Look for those holes in the fences; the systemwide timewasters; the places where things don't scale, then gravitate to those points (where) you have the most passion."

Even when you find that idea, there is start up work to be done before actually starting up.

"How will you support the idea?" Shah asked when we talked.

Supporting your idea, he says, involves everything from financing to staffing to determining when you should quit your day job, which, Shah says, should be the "final step" in the process.

Among Shah's thoughts:

• Start up cycles have shortened, which means you'll likely need "an ability to scale quickly. You can't sit on an idea. Either make it work or get out."

• Assemble the right team -- and do so, Shah says, "Before you say 'I'm going to set up a company.'"

• Get your finances in order. That could mean finding "a consulting gig in your space" that will provide both income and insights, Shah says.

• 2014 Kendall Communications, Inc. Follow Jim Kendall on LinkedIn and Twitter, and at Kendall Communications on Facebook. Write him at Jim@kendallcom.com.

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