Whilst many an idea has commercial potential, in truth, it is only a fantasy until that point when you take the brave step of communicating it to others and risking the slings and arrows of receiving their feedback.
But before you take the leap into the unknown there are two key questions that you have to be able to answer:
Without either a need or a market, your business idea could easily sap all your energies and resources. Much better to carefully identify what other alternatives are out there for potential users of your service or product – they may not always be obvious.
Having identified your target users, try and test whether your assumed market will be willing to transfer their affections to a different choice and at what cost. Narrow down the market to a small, accessible and viable group – do not try to conquer the world, you are not ready and they do not want you yet!
The testing phase of your prototype product or service needs to be achieved at the lowest cost, so that you can maximize the learning without exhausting your limited resources. If you can borrow rather than buy, then do it – and if you do invest, only go for the essentials. Seek advice, and beware snake oil salesmen who can “guarantee” you success in finding your customers – only you can sell with the passion of the business founder.
When marketing your product, be clear what your point of difference is and how you are better than alternative choices. If your only selling point is that you are cheaper, then you might ask yourself how you can sustain this advantage and what would stop a competitor from swooping in and stealing your market. In addition, consider protecting your product or service so that it can’t be copied without some recourse.
You now need to reach your target market by targeting them through their (not your) preferred channels. This phase requires enormous resilience and perseverance as clients do not usually leap into the net, they have to be caught on the line first. The early adopters will provide the most essential feedback and you should capture this readily. What are they saying? What other questions can you ask them to help you target them even more accurately? Are there product benefits that you had not fully appreciated that you could use to reshape your market focus?
So now you have a start-up. A business idea no longer, it is now that the really hard work begins of winning new customers, finessing and delivering a product and service consistently, and at a cost that will earn you money and satisfaction.
If you want to turn your idea into a business come to one of our start-up or scale up workshops at Devon Business & Education Centre or contact us for a private discussion.