By Trevor Shorte
I was recently asked about what advice I would give to someone who wanted to start a business. For me, the answer would start like this: “Are you sure that this is something that you want to do? The concept of starting a business is easy… you have a product/service that people want to buy and you sell it to them. But if you want to “build” a business, that part is hard work. You know, the kind of business that can give you the financial independence and freedom to control how you live your life?? Yeah, that kind of business. It’s a huge commitment and you will most likely hear the word NO so many times, that you will seriously start to question your life choices.”
Now is not the time to give up entirely on your dream though. With a little bit of planning and forethought, you can turn that great idea you have into a viable business.
The Conception Phase
Step #1: Validate Your Idea
So, you’ve got an idea swirling around in your head that you think would be great if it existed. You scribble down your thoughts on a napkin or piece of paper and voila, there you have it, the next great product idea. Now what? Well one of the first things you should do is a simple search on Google for your idea. If there’s already other, similar products out there, then that tells you a couple of things. Firstly, there’s a potential market for it and the other is that you will have some competition that has a head start on you. If nothing comes up from your search, don’t despair. That just means you might have to work a little harder to create a market for it.
Step #2: Do Your Research
Remember that Google search that you did in the previous step? Well, this is where you get to expand on that search. You need to find out everything you can about the market opportunity for your product. What’s your target market going to be? Do you have any competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Can you identify who your ideal customers are? The goal of your research is to determine whether or not there are people out there who are willing to pay you for your product. It’s tedious work but you can’t skip this step.
Step #3: Build a Prototype
If you’ve gone through the first two steps, discovered a potential market, and you’re getting positive support for your idea, it’s time to consider building what is commonly known in product development circles as your Minimum Viable Product (MVP). You create a working model of what you plan to sell to determine if it’s something that people want to use and, in turn, give up their hard-earned money for. I know that I might sound like a broken record, but there can be no business if nobody wants to buy your product.
The Planning Phase
Step #4: Develop a Plan for Your Business
This is where you start the process of creating your business plan. It is basically the roadmap for your business and how you plan on making a profit. Things that you should consider when creating your plan:
- What you’re selling
- Who your customers are and how you intend to market your product
- What kind of expenses you expect to see
- Your pricing strategy and revenue projections (especially important if you’re looking for outside financing)
There are online tools and templates out there that can help you with writing your business plan. (Google is also your friend here!) If you aren’t looking to get outside funding, you probably don’t need to do a formal business plan and can utilize something I recommend regularly, the Business Model Canvas. It is a tool that will give you a high-level overview of the elements that you need to create a successful business.
Step #5: Organize Your Finances
Unless you’re independently wealthy, there’s a good chance that you might have to use your own money to get your idea off the ground. You should make sure that you have your finances in order and outline how you are going to support your business in the early stages. Of course, there are so many other options available when it comes to getting funding for your business so explore all available options for you and your business. Also, find a really good accountant. You’ll thank me later.
The Execution Phase
Step: #6 Execute the Plan
Here’s where the rubber meets the road and you are ready to introduce your product to the world. You have created a plan for what you are going to sell and how it will benefit your customers. You have a plan on how you want to market your product to your target audience. You have a plan for how you are going to manage your business finances. Now you just execute your plan.
As you go through these steps, you will start to notice that they are like little building blocks that you are using to build a foundation for your business that will be able to withstand the trials and tribulations that come with running a business.
Once you start down this path, if you get slightly off track, don’t worry. Every business has to deal with changing market conditions, reacting to competitors, or even a change in the buying habits of your potential customers. Don’t be afraid to pivot and change your business model to find a different way. There’s nothing wrong with taking stock of where you are and trying to find an alternate way to get there. Think of it this way, if you were outside headed somewhere, took a wrong turn, and got lost, what would you do? You whip out your phone and figure out where you are and then map out a route to get you back on track.
At SongBird, we are pretty good at helping you map out a destination for your business so if you would like some help with that, you can book a free 20-minute consultation with us here!