Some would say that coming up with a great business idea is not the big step. No, the big step – the one that so many just don’t take – is making that idea happen. Any number of factors might be holding you back from acting on your idea and turning your idea into reality. Maybe you’re scared? That’s natural, starting a business can be risky. Maybe you don’t have time, you’re working a regular job and juggling that with family commitments. Maybe you just don’t know how. These ‘drag factors’ can be overcome by breaking things down into practical steps and taking one thing at a time…
Write a plan.
Although it may feel less ‘creative’ than the idea-storming phase, the first key practical step is to write a business plan. First, writing it down makes it real. Second, it helps identify any gaps in the idea or the execution that you need to research and/or address. Third, just putting your business into words on paper breaks the whole thing down into discrete items and actions which makes it all seem much more manageable. There are any number of great business plan templates and guides available on the internet.
Research your market.
As part of fleshing out your business plan, you’ll need to research your potential market and customers. This is all part of ensuring there is sufficient demand for what you’re offering before you start investing significant amounts of time and money in your new business. Identify customer needs and trends; check out the offerings from likely competitors, consider the prices you need/want to charge and – importantly – find out whether people will pay them.
Give your business idea a trial run. This might be making a small batch of your product and testing it on friends, family and potential customers. Or maybe you offer your new service for free to a charity or non-profit organization. However you do it, this is about finding out what works, what doesn’t and fine-tuning your offering.
However low-cost your setup, even a service with all customer interaction online will have some requirement for start-up funds (internet access, for instance?). You should have your financial estimates worked out before you take the plunge, especially if you need to raise funding from elsewhere. After all, whether it’s a bank loan, crowdfunding, venture capital… whoever is putting up the cash will want some reassurances.
This trio of factors – planning, market research, and funding – should be your focus on the journey from idea to reality. But there are a couple of more attitudinal issues to consider while you’re taking that journey…
Know the risks.
Even if you don’t feel it yourself, a lot of people are going to tell you what a risk you’re taking in opening up your own business. It’s true, it is risky. You’re going to invest time and effort and money and there’s no guarantee of success (although you can definitely influence the odds). So, make your risk a calculated one. Consider what you could lose, what you’ll need to give up. And then ask yourself if the chance of a successful business is worth it. If the answer is yes, then go right ahead.
Speak to experts and seek the assistance of a business mentor – particularly if this is your first step into the business world. Their advice can help you avoid potentially devastating and costly mistakes. Contact the Small Business Association. The SBA will offer free advice, information and resources to those starting out in business. This will certainly help you get off on the right foot with your new venture.
Develop a team.
Consider working with others in brining your idea to fruition. Even the most successful entrepreneurs lack some of the basic skills that are required to set up a new business – such as website development, setting up ecommerce facilities, etc. Depending on the business you are getting involved in, a business partner could bring a lot to the table – including know-how and business contacts!
Staying the course.
Finally, perseverance is an absolute necessity. Every business faces setbacks and rejections. You’ll hear the word, “no” a lot. By all means, revisit and review the viability of your idea but as long as you still believe in it, keep moving forward until you hear a “yes”. You know what they say, if at first you don’t succeed, try again. At the very least, you will keep learning what doesn’t work and why!