How do you know if your idea is going to be successful?
So you think you’ve got a good idea, but have you got an idea that’s good enough for you to exploit and turn into a profitable business? If I had £5 for the amount of times someone has said to me “I’ve got a great idea” I would be raking it in, actually come to think about it that might be a ‘great idea’. Too many people think just because they have thought of a way of doing something a little different they have a ‘business idea’. Truth be told, it’s much more about the execution than the idea, but there are some things you can do to increase your chance of turning your idea into a successful businesses. In this blog I discuss the things you need to consider if you want to change your idea into a good business.
It’s not a hobby; it’s a business dear …
Don’t be short sighted into thinking that you can run a business better than your employer, or think because you like looking after children you could run a successful childcare business. It’s not that easy. Firstly when you are running a business you end up doing much less of the “fun” stuff than you originally imagined. Business is about margins, making money, selling, employing the right people, getting rid of the wrong people etc etc. A hobby is something that you like doing, a business is something that is making you money.
The first thing you have to do is be crystal clear on who will be your customer, who will be the person or group of people that will be your first customer(s). You need to get as close to them as possible, find out where they hang out online and offline and start talking to them. Find out exactly what they want or what you can convince them to buy and then sell it to them at a high margin.
Take the idea beyond what you think
The first thing you should be doing is authenticating your idea by talking to people about it. Shock horror. If you talk to someone about your idea, they may steal it right? Wrong. If you talk to people about your idea, ask the right questions and listen, you will be able to find out how you could improve and challenge some of your assumptions. Speak to as many potential customers as you can and discover how close you can get to selling your service/product before it’s even formed. If you could get pre-orders then you’ve already started to prove there is a business in your idea. This is where a lot of people come unstuck, the first hurdle. If you are not confident to go out and sale/promote your idea then you may as well stop now. Business is about sales, like it or lump it. Business is for everyone, but not everyone should be ‘in business’.
Start with the end in mind
It’s maybe hard to visualise at the beginning but the best place to start is with how would your ‘business’ run without you involved. Ultimately you should be thinking of how you are going to exit the business, if there’s no way of your business surviving without you involved (eventually) then it’s not a sustainable business. The best way to start is by writing everything down as a process, what exactly do you do to get a new customer, what do you do after a customer buys your product, how and how often do you communicate with your existing customers or mailing list and so on. By doing this you create a set of process documents that become your bible if you ever want to sell your business or train someone to do one of the important functions.
It’s not about ideas it’s about making ideas happen
I know I know I’ve said it before, but it’s more about the individual than the idea. Spend a lot of your time getting yourself out there and talking to people about your idea, building your personal brand, join networks, spread your message and get people associating you with your business/service.
You are the one that will determine whether you have a good idea or not, the energy you put into it, how you pivot depending on what customers/consumers are telling you, how you respond to the latest trend. Think of Facebook – the original idea the founders had is completely different from what it is now. Your idea will morph, change and adapt many times, just hang on in there through the rough times.
Three things you can do now to start testing your idea;
- Create an online survey/questionnaire to seek the opinion of your potential customer, use tools like Survey Monkey or Typeform
- Create a landing page to test how many visitors you can get, a simple one page website capturing email addresses is a great way to test the interest in your product/service. Use services like Wix, Unbounce or Lead Pages to get you going (you don’t need to know code or web development)
- Start talking people to people about your idea and encourage them to visit your one page website or complete your online survey
Whatever you chose to do the most important thing is to get started. If you need any help or advice on starting or growing your small business then I’m always here to help. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel free to share your comments and experiences via the comments below.