How to Turn Your Business Ideas Into Reality
At one time or another, everyone has probably dreamed about quitting a 9-to-5 corporate job and launching their own company. But how many people actually follow through on this plan? While the idea of being able to set your own schedule and follow through on a vision for a certain product or service has undeniable appeal, there are also a lot of risk involved. With that in mind, here are the steps that are needed to quit dreaming and take the first steps to small business ownership…
Develop a powerful message and vision for your company
Before you ever launch a company, it’s important to develop the vision and branding behind your new venture. This is a point that many people ignore – they assume that if they build a better mousetrap, that people will be lining up to be their customers. While a core message of “better, cheaper, faster” may resonate with some people, you also have to think about how hard it is to convince people to leave behind one product and switch over to another. These so-called “switching costs” can be very high, especially when established, entrenched competitors have done a very good job at locking in customers and making it very hard for them to pick up and leave.
Thus, your message needs to be strong enough to convince these people to quit an old product and embrace a new product. Think about how hard companies like Netflix and Hulu had to fight at the outset, in order to convince customers to “cut the cord” and get rid of their cable TV subscriptions. They had to develop messages that would resonate with customers, such as “stop paying for channels you never watch.” So take some time to think about why customers would want to switch to your product. Optimally, you will want to have a message that appeals to both the mind and the heart.
Understand the market and your future customer
After you’ve come up with a powerful message about your product (or service), it’s time to think about your target market. Here is where you need to let go of assumptions, biases and stereotypes that you might have. All too often, entrepreneurs assume that the rest of the market thinks and acts exactly like they do. In some cases, that might be correct. However, with a little market research, you can start to develop a very thorough and nuanced view of your future customer – all before you have ever started your company!
Social media can actually be a very low-cost and effective way to understand the demographic and psychographic profile of your target customer. If you are planning to open up a new retail store, for example, where are people hanging out online and talking about the types of products that you plan on selling? You might discover a lot just by interacting with people on Facebook and other social media platforms. Maybe people are talking about a product feature they wish they could have. Or maybe they are complaining about the way a certain product is priced. Both of those observations could be very useful in the future, when you are putting together a marketing plan for your new company.
Surround yourself with advisors, mentors and business coaches
The myth of the “solo entrepreneur” is that a single man or woman is out there all alone, courageously battling everything that the business world throws at them. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact. The most successful “solo” entrepreneurs are those that surround themselves with advisors, mentors and business coaches. These may not be full-time, paid employees – but they are just as valuable.
Sooner or later, you’re going to encounter business issues you might need help with. Or you might encounter a tough business problem that you’re having a hard time solving. That’s when you will want to tap into the experience, insights and market savvy of seasoned entrepreneurs. Using online platforms like LinkedIn is one way to find these mentors and advisors. Another way is by using complete all-in-one solutions like My Business Coach, which offers support in creating, launching and running a new business.
Start to gather numbers, data and metrics for your future business
One of the biggest tasks that you will face when starting your own business is writing your business plan. This plan will include a summary of your new business, including its core market and its core competitive advantages. And here’s the important point – it will all be backed up with financial data and metrics. This is what enables entrepreneurs to develop accurate financial projections about the future, and not just rely on a lot of guesswork to fill in the blanks. Having accurate data about factors like margins and pricing can make all the difference in generating early success for your new venture.
For example, if you are thinking about starting a business in the restaurant industry, are you aware of the going rates for commercial leases in your city or town? Are you aware of the costs for all the “inputs” (i.e. ingredients) needed to make everything on your menu? Those are just some of the questions that you can start to ask (and answer) before officially launching. In some cases, you might be able to get the answers simply by doing a little due diligence. Hanging out at the local farmers’ market, for example, might be one way to get a handle on local market costs. But in other cases, you might need to tap into the experience and expertise of a business coach, who can help you track down the numbers and data that you will need.
With these basic steps and My Business Coach, you can start to transform your business idea into reality. You will have a good idea of how to pitch your product (or service) to others; you will understand current market conditions; you will have the right numbers and data to make informed decisions; and most importantly, you will have a strong support base of mentors and coaches to help you along your new entrepreneurial journey.