Many of us think of great business ideas that we would love to pursue but shy away from even attempting to bring those ideas to life. Why? Most people are likely hesitant because they don’t know where or how to start. Even if we think we have an idea of how to start, the point is to start correctly. We know that if we don’t start correctly, we have countless examples of what our odds of success will be.
We often hear that starting a business is extremely difficult and we read statistics on how a high percentage of new businesses fail within their first year or two. No wonder most people shy away from pursuing their business ideas. No one wants to spend their life’s savings, or even borrow money, to get a business going only to lose it all. No one wants to waste time, energy, and of course money so the majority of us are unwilling to even try.
That’s understandable, but you have a genius idea that you could turn into a thriving business–one that can really contribute something useful to your community or even the world. Deep down, you know that you shouldn’t allow fear of the unknown to hold you back from pursuing your genius idea. So where do you turn? I have eight steps that can help you get started. Turning that idea into a fully sustainable business doesn’t have to be so scary. With proper planning and a little motivation, the following fundamental steps will help you get your business idea in motion.
Do Your Market Research
Do market research to see if your idea will solve a problem for people or businesses. All successful companies, products, or services enhance the lives of their customers by eliminating a problem. You want to make sure that your idea is a problem solver. Once you have that figured out, find out if your idea is actually a ‘new’ idea or if someone else is already doing it. If there are other people already doing it, don’t freak out. Just think of ways to improve upon your idea and make it better. If you can, tweak it and make it unique somehow. This way, you will have one up on the competition.
Develop a Business Plan
Even if you are not planning on borrowing money or approaching investors, it is still very important to have a well-organized business plan. You know that old saying: “a person who fails to plan, plans to fail,” that statement couldn’t be truer. Of course, there are many people who start and run successful businesses without a business plan. Each person and business are different and you would need to carefully consider your own situation.
In order to determine what may or may not be feasible, it is important to first map out each stage of the process to help you figure out, early on, exactly what is going to be required. Once your market research is done, you will need to figure out if your idea will be financially viable. Meaning, will you make money? Creating a financial model that focuses on how your product or service is created, marketed, and sold, will give you more insight on how your business will function. Once you’ve completed your financial model, move into planning the first phase of your business. Map out your mission, objective, keys to success, target market, competitive advantage, and basic strategies.
Find a Mentor
If possible, seek out someone who can offer you advice. Try to find someone who is already doing what you want to do or similar to what you want to do. You will likely seek out someone who has great success in his or her own business. However, they can also tell you of their mistakes, which can help you avoid the same pitfalls.
Obtaining advice from someone with experience in your field is extremely valuable; these individuals can offer a different perspective and unique, and often power, insights into your business. They can help you figure out what works and what will garner the best responses from your audience. A great place to look for a mentor is SBA.gov, they offer tons of resources and assistance for small businesses and helping you find a mentor is one of them.
Ask for Feedback
You may already have a team of people that you are planning on working with. It is important to discuss your ideas with your team and mentors. If you don’t have a team, get one! Many times we think we have solid proof ideas but by telling others and allowing them to give their feedback, they may see things differently like loopholes or obstacles that you did not originally see or plan for.
Don’t seek feedback from just any group. You don’t want pessimists (or haters) but you don’t want people who will appease you either. You want a group of supporters that will shoot it to you straight and offer truly objective points of view.
Network Like Crazy
Networking is a powerful thing. It is important to network with any and everyone that you meet. Even those individuals whom you feel can’t contribute anything worthwhile to your business or whom you can’t learn anything from. You never know what connections they may have and how they can help you in the future. Business opportunities and new clients often come from unexpected places. A great place to start networking is your local chamber of commerce.
Chances are, there will be many people who need or want your service and/or product if you followed step number one. Unfortunately, there will also be many people who don’t. Instead of wasting your time and energy targeting a broad group of people, it would be wise to specifically target your ideal customer. In your business plan, you should have identified your ideal target customer. You need to think about what you need to know about your target customer in order to reach them. For example, it would be good to know the demographic information, i.e., age, gender, location, ethnic background, income levels, etc. It would also be good to know what hobbies, interests, values, behaviors, lifestyle norms, etc., your ideal customers possess. Knowing their daily habits, like what apps they use and websites they frequent will help you target them more precisely.
Turning your genius idea into a full flourishing business is no easy feat. You will have roadblocks and difficulty–unless you don’t. The point is, just make sure that you prepare yourself mentally for the possibly tough road ahead of you. Proper planning will help you overcome those obstacles because you will be prepared when things go wrong. Encouragement from mentors can also help you to stay motivated. Just keep reminding yourself of your vision and don’t lose sight of your goals.
Don’t wait for the ‘perfect’ moment or the ‘perfect’ time. There is no such thing and if you wait for it, then you’ll be waiting forever. Something will always come up in your life that will cause a distraction or add to your exhaustion or make you realize that there just aren’t enough hours in a day. Push through it and keep in mind that it’s okay to take baby steps. After all, your business isn’t going to be an overnight success; it will take some time to build. So no more waiting and no more excuses.
Do you have advice for someone who wants to start a business? What are your tips? Share them in the comments below.