You may have been nursing your unique idea for a business for years, or it may be something that came to you in a sudden burst of inspiration. Either way, if you have a solid idea and you’re determined to get it up and running, then there are a number of steps that you need to go through. Here are some pointers to help you take your business idea from concept to business plan and beyond.
Fine Tune Your Idea
You’ve come up with an idea that meshes with your strengths, passions, and goals. The next step is to flesh out your idea. You may find that your initial idea changes quite significantly, so don’t be too possessive over it. Give it room to grow and transform.
Talk it Over
It’s a good idea to talk your business idea through with someone who is business savvy. Perhaps you have a mentor or a friend who is already running his or her own business. These people would make the perfect sounding board, and you could end up coming away with some great advice. You could also consider talking it over with potential customers in your target range and see what they think.
Consider it From Every Angle
Think about your business idea from the perspective of an investor. Be objective and analytical. Consider who your target customers are and what they really need. How big of an opportunity is there for you in this niche and is the timing right? Make a list of all the steps it will take to execute your business plan and assess if the payoff is worth the risk involved. Also, think about what type of business plan you’re going to utilize.
Get Plenty of Feedback
Talk to people who are familiar with the market and the type of business model which you intend to use – people who have this type of experience can help you understand what works and what doesn’t out there in the business world. You cannot do enough research before laying out your business plan.
Take Your Feedback Onboard
Don’t just ignore feedback, especially if it was not what you wanted to hear. Use it to make wise changes to your business plan and your go-to-market strategy. Make sure that you crunch some numbers so that you can develop an idea of how much you need to invest in key milestones. Now’s the time to decide who you need on your team to help you put this plan into practice.
Come up With a Minimalist Product or Service
In your mind, picture your product or service in its simplest form. Strip it down to the very basics that your customers need: the minimal requirements. This exercise will help you to build a prototype. Once you’ve got the basic model designed, go ahead and make it as quickly and inexpensively as you can. You can add a full set of features later.
You don’t have to wait until your product is 100 percent perfect before you open shop. Once you have it out there on the market, you will be able to listen to customer feedback and see where tweaks and improvements need to be made. This will give you a greater ability to react to customers quickly and upgrade your product as you go along. The key is to get your core product to market as quickly as you can.
Test Your Products
Now you have products in the marketplace; you can try to make them a better match for what your target customers need. For example, you can test different elements such as optional features, pricing, and branding features. Then you can search for a cost-effective way to draw customers by experimenting with sales pitches, promotions, marketing campaigns, and distribution channels. Once you have your results in, you can see which ones are most effective.
Don’t let the Process Stagnate
Now you’ve learned which aspects of your branding and marketing you need to change, fix them as quickly as possible. But you will have also gotten some things right, and obviously, you will want to leave those as they are.
Prepare for Expansion
Now is the time to update your business plan and gather all the resources you need to grow. Start raising capital if you need to. Pitch to investors, start crowdfunding, whichever path you choose, now is the time to do it.
Speed Up Your Start-Up
At this point, you have a market-tested business plan and resources at the ready. You should be ready to expand. Make sure your whole team is on board, and you’re all in line with the same goals.
Following these steps can help you move your business from concept to plan to reality.