So, you’ve got a brilliant idea for a business that is based on something you are passionate about – great! What will you be doing next to make that business idea come to fruition? As with most big things we take on, if you want to achieve success a bit of planning and research can go a long way – not to say that you should become bogged down trying to have everything set up perfectly before you launch, but you should at least know the viability of your idea in the market and have some goals as to where your business is headed.
1. Know the market
It’s easy and quite common to get so excited by your ‘brainwave’ that you forget to check out how viable your idea is for a business. Market research is an important starting point for any fledgling business and it doesn’t have to be the big expensive deal that you may think. For example, many top-selling marketers will sell their product/course/event before they have even developed it. This is a great way of gauging whether people actually want that product – if they don’t make sales they haven’t wasted a lot of time in developing the product.
You could of course hire a company to do market research for you, but most start-ups are looking to save cash where they can. Other low-cost forms of market research you can do yourself include surveys (with free online tools such as Survey Monkey) or through your social media accounts. Facebook advertising is relatively cheap and allows you to gauge interest via the number of clicks you get. If you are looking at starting a bricks and mortar business, local census information can be helpful for determining your local demographics.
2. Make a Business Plan
The only person who really doesn’t need a business plan is someone who is not wanting to go into business! Even more mature businesses benefit from a plan, so it is highly recommended that anyone starting out has one. A business plan is simply a written description of your businesses’ future including goals and the steps in between to help you get there. You would usually also include your organisational structure and any potential problems, along with how you foresee resolving them. As a start-up, a business plan is also particularly important for you if you will be needing to raise capital from other sources to start your business. There are many tools available to help you build a business plan if you do a quick search online.
3. Raising Capital
If your business requires a cash injection to get started, the bank or any potential investors will want to see your business plan. You could go down the route of borrowing from the bank or from relatives or friends, or you could offer friends, relatives or other potential investors some kind of share or return for investing in your business.
There are a few organisations out there that will put budding entrepreneurs in contact with angel investors, such as the Angel Investment Network. Otherwise, you may like to join the growing numbers who are seeking crowd-sourced funds for their projects from sites such as Kickstarter, Crowdfunder and Indiegogo. Again, you will do better on crowd-sourcing sites if you have a clear plan and present yourself well.
These are just a few of the ‘next steps’ for your great business idea. The important thing is to get going! Don’t lag behind in the ideas stage or spend a long time trying to figure out the perfect branding. Do your research and put some solid steps in place to launch!