Ideas they say rule the world. As true as that may seem, it is not entirely valid. Ideas by themselves alone do not rule. It is the right idea, acted upon and executed properly that can rule.
Did you recently have a light bulb go on in your head, a flash of genius, an idea about a product or service that you can turn into a business and change the world with? Sorry to break it to you, your idea alone cannot change the world.
This of course begs the question, how can I convert this great idea I have into a business venture? Here are 5 things you need to start with.
1. Do Market Research
o Most entrepreneurs are extremely confident in themselves and their ideas. And while that in itself is not a bad thing, it is a double-edged sword.Being very confident about ones ideas often makes people selectively blind to any negative message. It makes people loose objectivity, which is a very important trait for business success. We are not saying you should not be confident about your idea, but you have to put it to test and try to be as objective as possible while you are at it.
Yes, you asked your family and some friends and they all said it is a great idea, so you have got a market, right? Wrong. Have you actually gone to speak to the potential consumers of this product or service? Do you know whether they really want what you want to sell to them? Have you spent time on the internet researching the competition? What about the basics of demand and supply, do you understand how those shape your potential market?
Doing market research does not have to be expensive. At this stage, you might not even need to hire any external person to help you. Prepare a questionnaire that will help you find as many answers as you want. Use the Internet to standardize this questionnaire. Go and ask the real people to whom you hope to sell. It is that simple.
2. Test the Product/Service
o Sometimes, it is not always enough to do market research for a product. It is important to test your hypothesis early. Many times, even the most exhaustive market research does not give enough information as that gotten by testing the product or service in the market.
The goal of testing is to enable you gather real-time information, about how the market, potentially, will accept, react to and interact with your product. It also helps to either invalidate or validate your business concept. Testing your product or service in the marketplace enables you to have a “Proof of Concept”, which you can use to build a very successful business. So, do not sell all you have to start big. Start small, test the waters with a prototype.
3. Get a Business Plan!
o This almost looks like a cliché. You should not start a business without a business plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail—it is that simple. Hire a professional to help you do a business plan if you can afford it, but if you cannot afford that, do one yourself. Getting a business plan does not mean your business will surely succeed, but the process of putting it together forces you to ask objective questions about all the possible aspects of your business, which reduces the risk of failure greatly.
4. Look for Money
o Yes, you will need money to start this business, no matter how small the business is. Money is the food that business feeds on. If you venture into a business without enough money to sustain it, your business will die. Note that we said “enough money to sustain it.” You should have estimated how much money you need to sustain your business until it becomes profitable, as part of your business plan. There are many ways to raise money for your business. You should also go here to see how First Bank can help you get money to run your business.
5. Shut Up and Start Up!
o Okay, stop talking, stop planning, get started. Many ideas suffer from what is known as analysis paralysis, where you over-analyze what you want to do, so much that you do not do anything. You should learn the discipline of knowing when to stop planning and start building. After several iterations and going through the above stages, you can then pick a date to launch your business. You can issue press releases and have a grand opening (depending on the dynamics of the industry you are in).
This should however be after you have implemented feedback gotten during your testing phase and made the necessary changes. Start small however, and focus on conquering your local market, before setting your sights on the regional, national and international market.
Remember, being in business is a marathon and not a sprint. Be ready to persevere through the various challenges that will come your way, and along the way focus on continuous improvement, implementing lessons learnt to make your business better and stronger.