Running a business is one of the most rewarding things you’ll do in your lifetime. I believe that being an entrepreneur allows you to be in control of your own destiny and there is no better feeling than doing what you love and loving what you do. Confucius once said, “Choose a job that you love and you’ll never have to work a day again in your life”, I wholeheartedly agree with this quote but how do you get there?
I’ve put together the 6 fundamental steps to turn an idea into a business and I’m here to show you that it is possible!
A great idea
We all have many ideas but how do you know if you’re onto a good one? The best ideas are when you solve a problem that people have. When you think about your idea, ask yourself, is this really a problem that people have? Will my solution actually make a difference in someones life?
Once you’ve got your idea it’s time to research. The first step is to search for competitors. Are there any companies that are the same or similar? Even if they are solving the same problem but in a different way, these companies are still your competitors.
One of my favourite ways to research is to talk to people you’ve just met about the idea. Whilst you’re pitching the idea watch their body language and take note of their comments and questions in response. Did they understand the idea? If not, keep perfecting how you pitch and talk about your idea for the next person you talk to, or better still keep talking to that person until they understand.
Make sure the people you talk to about your idea are complete strangers as these will be the people that will be the most honest to you and won’t make any pre-conceptions about the idea based on what they know about you.
Once you’ve researched your market, make sure that you find a way to stand out. If you’re part of 10 companies with a similar offering why should they pick you? Finding your niche and unique selling point (USP) is sometimes a long and tedious task but it’s a must for any successful company.
Create a minimum viable product
One entrepreneurial book that really resonated with me is The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Eric explains the concept of creating a minimum viable product quickly and getting it out there to gauge response. This should be seen as an extension of your research phase.
The idea is to build, measure, learn from the data and continue to do this until you’re onto a winner.
Without doing this you risk potentially spending a long time on research, getting it out to the public and it potentially being rejected. Get it out quick and pivot based on the feedback.
I have personally given myself a challenge this year of getting a new business idea into a minimal viable product each month. I’ve set myself this challenge so that I can get all my ideas out there and give them the best chance possible. This way I can gauge the response and act based on demands. Just remember, It’s better done than done perfectly.
Find your target demographic
Consult your research, feedback and website analytics to determine the group that has most been interested in your product, this is your target demographic. Have a look to see if there are any trends within this target demographic. Where do they hang out? Are there any trending interests? These insights will give you an idea on how to find more of your target demographic.
For example, with Tea Witty (www.teawitty.com), my loose leaf tea startup I originally was targeting the 35-50 age group interested in fine foods, luxuries and crafts. My analytics painted a complete different picture with the 25-35 age group being my largest group of visitors to the site.
Listen to your customers
The most valuable feedback is directly from your customers. You quite commonly hear the story where entrepreneurs go on and on to tweak their offering with what they think that their customers want and then getting a shock when they get their customers actual feedback.
For my first startup Tea Witty I made a few pivots after talking to my customers. One example of a pivot was that the original payment structure consisted of a subscription offering of 3, 6 or 12 months up front. I thought that, much like a magazine subscription, people would want to commit to a time period and, therefore, save some money if they subscribed for a longer period of time. After talking to my current customers and some of my target demographic, the feedback was unanimous that they’d prefer to pay by the month, even though this didn’t give the customer any financial saving for subscribing for a longer period of time.
Once you’ve done all the above you have laid the foundations of turning your idea into a business. What’s next you ask? A whole load of determination, hard work and pivots to continue and develop your business.
Sadly 9 out of 10 businesses fail. If the going gets tough learn to either pivot or persevere as well as remembering the reason why you started the business in the first place.
- Make sure that your idea solves a real problem
- Research and talk to as many people as possible about the idea
- Create a minimum viable product
- Find your target demographic by analyzing the research, feedback and website analytics
- Engage with your customers, ask them questions. Assume nothing.
- Keep going, even when the going gets tough
As with anything, it’s important to keep continuing to work towards your goal. If this feels like a monumental task, break down each task into mini-tasks and ensure that you’re doing at least 1 mini-task a day to further your business. Before you know it, you will have completed a major task and you’ll be on your way!