Find inspiration and transform it into an idea for a business. Sounds easy, right? But how do you translate this concept into a fully sustainable company? Do you follow the examples of other businesses before you? Or, do you turn to industry leaders like Russ Ruffino for guidance?
The truth is, you need to chart your own path – one that is not easily duplicated. And that path involves some fundamental steps budding entrepreneurs must maintain to set their ideas in motion. Lay the groundwork for a functioning business with the following:
Set Sights on the Solution
Always remember the problem is not your endgame, the solution is. Treat the solution as a “must solve” instead of a “nice to solve”. Realize that every business sector is big and fragmented and your target audience is not always able to afford a solution. For that reason, make sure the solution model you propose is easy enough to scale.
Gauge the Demand for Your Product
Do not waste time and resources trying to figure out the needs of customers you don’t really understand. Always test assumptions regarding your customer base before you make any more investments in the wrong direction or even the wrong endeavor.
Start by figuring out whether the issue you’ve identified is valid and if there is enough demand in the market for a solution. Set this up as fast as possible by developing a basic website, business cards, and a one-pager. Then focus on selling your idea as if it already exists. Use this method to validate the demand for a solution before building it first.
Also, avoid asking family and friends to validate your business ideas because they will respond positively most of the time. Test the merit of your idea with actual customers.
Secure Validation for Your Solution
Understand the difference between a tech solution and a physical brick-and-mortar business. The former will always be at an advantage because unlike stores and restaurants, they can be easily evolved and tested with relative speed.
Rely on third-party products, suppliers, and developers to create a prototype so customers can see the value in the actual business. Nowadays, you can validate a market-ready fit for your solution within a span of weeks instead of months or years.
Settle on a Sales Model
Ensure your business model is scalable and repeatable. Hire sales reps to start selling the product. Get accurate assessments with hired representatives instead of founders since the latter possess an enthusiasm and title a regular sales team does not.
Hire a couple of salespeople in the beginning. Take a look at their combined performance to get an honest picture of your business idea’s viability.
Form Your Business Entity
Depending on the success of your earlier efforts, create a C-corporation or LLC online. Think of a name, a professional definition along with a way to separate your business expenses from your personal ones in the process. Having a defined business entity right from the start makes it clear to potential investors that you consider this more than a mere hobby.
Keep the name of your fledgling business consistent with social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites, as well as an available domain name. Set these up and give your new venture a more concrete identity.
Create a Prototype to Determine Visual Impact
Shoulder the responsibility of ensuring that your finished product resembles the idea you had in your head. Develop a three-dimensional prototype to receive proper feedback from potential users about the demand. Also, use the prototype to convince possible investors that your business is not stuck in the idea stage.
Use the prototype to figure out the costs and efforts involved on a larger scale. Also, convince investors that are prepared and willing to sign and negotiate contracts related to support, marketing, and manufacturing.
Develop the prototype in a threefold manner:
Create Scalability and Visual Representation
Design the prototype in a way that apart from an accurate visual representation, you also get the opportunity to scale and fine-tune your idea after it’s been brought to life.
Check whether a business product or invention that seemed profitable on paper feels the same after development. Find the kinks in your product and fix them quickly.
Keep improving your work until it resembles your idea as closely as possible while being marketable to potential investors and your target audience.
Showcase Your Efforts
Leverage your prototype when approaching a lending institution or capital investors for your business. Have a working model of your product ready or at least one which highlights your final outcome. Encourage financial resources to view yourself as more than an entrepreneur with a clever idea.
Use the prototype to show the industry that your product is extensively reviewed and the possibility of failure minimization. Present it as a sound investment opportunity.
Give Rise to Fresh Ideas: During prototype development, ignite other related ideas to jumpstart your business. Open your mind to creative ways for enhancing functionality, anticipating customer feedback, or reconsidering some outstanding issue.
Think of the prototype as a means of taking your business to the next level as well as a solution to problems faced by your target audience.
Safeguard Your Idea with Intellectual Property Rights
Protect your idea by patenting it so that your competitors cannot replicate it and make money. Fill a provisional trademark or patent for a moderate sum, and send across the message that you have a business in place. Demonstrate to others that this idea is more than just a dream.
Get Ready to Advertise Your Business Before Launch
Market your product even before it has launched. At the very least, let consumers know that your product is here. Harness the power of social media and generate excitement for your business before the launch date. Get creative with your marketing efforts to stay one step ahead of your competitors.
You might not be a salesperson or someone who is tasked with handling sales. But be sure to promote your business to the fullest extent without being too obnoxious or aggressive. Nobody likes pushy people, and it’s the same for your target audience as well. Beware of the negative impact of a sales call gone wrong.
Request your friends and members of your family to pass on word in their own neighborhoods and circles about your business.
A poorly executed idea has no value. If you wish to carve out your space in the world of business, you need to put your idea – no matter how good it is – through the rigors of careful validation. Understand whether you have a winning business on your hands or a long-term dud.
Make sure you understand that the process is a lot more important than the idea. So go about it carefully to avoid failure. However, do not hesitate to take the first step towards realizing your dream of entrepreneurial success.
Act on your business idea as soon as you’ve come up with a decent business plan. Establish firm business strategies and build a solid online presence through social networks and your website. Make sure you have a shot at fulfilling your business idea.
Guest post courtesy of Smith Willas