Turn Your Idea Into a Business
We all get ideas. There are times when brainstorming is at its peak. For some people, this happens when they’re driving. For others, it’s when they’re in the shower or watching an inspiring movie or just about to fall asleep. Of all these ideas, though, few of them would actually be profitable. However, when you do have a million dollar idea, here’s how to turn it into a bona fide business.
Pick an Idea, Any Idea
Most people don’t just have one great idea – they have several. In order to carry through with one of them, you have to narrow down your choices. You can’t build two businesses at the same time. Choose the idea that you’re most passionate about. Stick with it until you’ve seen it through completely. You can also go back to another idea down the road.
Solve a Problem
Successful businesses solve a problem or meet a need. What problem does your business solve? This is your business’ core function and you need to figure it out before you can move forward. Are you saving people money or making their lives easier? Are you filling a void that they have in their lives? In what you way are you enhancing the customer’s life? Figure this out, write it down and use it to guide everything you do.
Create a Must-Have Product
While people will, sometimes, spend money on nice-to-have products, the best way to ensure business success is to create a must-have product. You don’t want people to like your item and then move on without purchasing it; you want them to have to have your item right now, whatever it takes. Sure, you can probably sell some nice-to-have products, but will you be able to turn it into a thriving, evolving business? Not likely.
Locate Your Target Audience
Who is your perfect customer? What is their age, gender, location, background, income, profession? What are their habits, interests and problems? Create a profile for your customer – this is what will help you determine who you should market to, where you should place ads and how your product or service should be designed. Often, when a product or service isn’t being sold, it’s because it’s being targeted for the wrong market.
Test Your Audience
The best way to figure out if customers will want what you offer is to test it out on them. Build a prototype and offer it for free. Your prototype can be digital, like a landing page, or it can be physical, like the actual product you’re going to sell. If you’re offering services, launch a test program where you offer services for free in exchange for truthful feedback. When creating your prototype, keep it simple. You want to create a minimal viable product, also called an MVP. This will be the most basic version of your product, which gives you room to expand on your idea after you receive feedback.
Expand Your Market
If you find that your idea only caters to a small segment of people, you may want to rethink it. While you want to figure out your target audience, you don’t necessarily want that audience to be small. Your business idea should appeal to a large market and it should also be able to scale up as it grows in popularity. This doesn’t mean you have to scrap your idea completely, but it does mean that you should reconsider how you can make it appealing to a larger group.
Ask for Help
You may be a genius at building your product or marketing your idea, but you may not be great at customer service or creating an audience profile. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Chances are that you won’t be able to do everything on your own. Learn to ask for help and to get the support you need. Work with people who specialize in the areas where you’re weakest. The most successful business owners know when to outsource something that they can’t (or don’t want to) handle on their own. Most startups weren’t founded by just one single person.
Create a Financial Model
Once you’ve narrowed down your target audience and tested your product or service, it’s time to create a financial model. While this will likely change over time, you now have the necessary information to at least get started. You’ll want to create two models: a bottom-up model and a top-down model. The bottom-up version will include information about how you create the item you’re selling, how you market it and how you sell it. The top-down version will take into account your target market and your profit goals.
Fund Your Dream
Unless you have tens of thousands of dollars in a saving account just waiting to help you make your business idea come true, you’ll need some outside funding. Most entrepreneurs don’t put up their own money for their startup. If you don’t want to tap into your friends and family (although you can make them investors, which could pay off in the future), look into small business loans or private funding from angel investors. Every option has its own set of pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh your options.
Get Comfortable With Change
Ideas are never million dollar ideas when they first start out. Often, ideas don’t earn a penny at the beginning, and only become successful over the course of time as they evolve and change. Your idea is going to go through many versions of itself before it’s finished. In truth, it may never be completely finished because you may always want to improve on it. Understand that this is completely normal and even necessary for success.
Everyone gets great ideas. Some never come to fruition because they simply wouldn’t convert to business well. Others never make it because the dreamer didn’t take the next steps to make it come true. When you have a great idea and are driven enough to see it through, you have a better chance of turning it into a successful business.