I am an entrepreneur wannabe. I have an engineering background. I have very broad albeit shallow skill set in various areas (web, mobile, GIS, general programming, math etc.). And I have a continually growing notebook of business-related ideas. However any particular idea seems to be just beyond the horizon of what I can implement with my available time and knowledge. I've attempted to start things before, but with little luck. (In one attempt, my employeer usurped my idea... lesson learned. And in another attempt, my business partner I ran unto a busy period in our personal lives and the idea seemed to evaporate.)
I imagine my problem is probably fairly common among those trying to break away from the typical 9-to-5. Have any of you hit this wall and then overcome it? What does it take? I've considered just quitting and chasing a focused idea full-time, but this seems overly risky. I've been trying to network towards more entrepreneurial people... but since I don't have anything in motion right now, I feel like I'm showing up to networking events without my "membership card".
The only way to find out is to actually start something. I strongly recommend that in your case, you don't quit your day job. Nights and weekends provide plenty of time to code a basic prototype of whatever it is that you think is worth building.
I also recommend that you do two things:
It's ok to fail the first time. You will have learned quite a bit and have a greater chance to succeed the second time.
But if you never start, you'll never make it to your second time.
My recommendation is to approach the customers first. Whether your idea is B2B or B2C, the biggest risk always seems to be whether the customer will buy it and how much he is willing to pay. Therefore, do this part first and your motivation for any particular idea will rise. Your risk will also fall.
Maybe you could also save some cash now as well so you could survive for a few months after quitting.
Having just an idea means nothing - Execution is the key.
There are things you can do to maximize the chance you actually get started and the idea doesn't "evaporate"
The idea behind all those suggestions is simple: take the project you are most likely to finish (something small you are passionate about) and commit publicly in order to pressure yourself to finish it.
Once the first version is out there and you start getting customers you can get motivation from actually working on something people use and like.
I second Alain opinion.
However, you don't even need a real working prototype. If your idea is a web-based application, just build a static html website showing the concept.
Then go out and interview potential customers. Ask them if they like the product, how they'd improve it, and how much they'd be willing to pay for it.
Iterate for 10-15 times, keep improving the concept website until you have a few people willing to buy the product, and a base price for it.
I know it seems simple, but it isn't!