What was the last idea you had for a business? Do you still remember it? What did you do with it?
If you’re like most of us, you probably had an idea at some point, thought it would be great for starting a business, told a few people about it, but although there was some initial thrill, you eventually let it fade without doing anything. Or maybe you didn’t tell anyone about it because you were afraid others would steal your idea. You kept it a secret and told yourself you’d pursue it later when the time is right. But that time never came.
You told yourself that most businesses fail anyway, and maybe your idea wasn’t even that good. It’s true that many businesses fail, but that’s usually because of poor planning. It’s not because the idea wasn’t good. Many successful companies don’t even start with an original idea. They just tweak and improve old ideas.
Although coming up with an original idea that also has good business potential is not easy, the hardest part is turning that idea into a viable product accompanied by a realistically promising business plan.
It’s not easy, but it’s possible. You can learn all the required skills. Great entrepreneurs weren’t born with everything they need. Of course, it helps if you’re naturally driven and hardworking, but you need those qualities in order to learn and make up for your gaps in skills and experience. You will make mistakes, but you will learn from them, adapt, and get better.
Make a Decision
You’ve probably had other ideas in the past, so the first thing you need to do is grab a piece of paper, sit down and write at least ten reasons why you let those ideas go and didn’t do anything.
You’ll most likely write that you didn’t know where to start, you thought it was a bad time, you didn’t have enough money, and you were afraid your idea wasn’t profitable. Maybe you were afraid you’d fail because you didn’t think you weren’t smart enough or didn’t have the right skills to turn an idea into a successful business. Maybe you thought that this kind of success simply doesn’t happen to people like you and that you’re not meant to make that kind of money. Either you’re too old, and it’s too late, or you’re too young, and people won’t take you seriously.
These are self-limiting beliefs. We all have them to a certain extent, so it’s important to learn how to recognize them and the ways in which they hold us back.
Go over your list, and for each item, ask yourself where this belief comes from and how it serves you. Then think of arguments against your self-limiting beliefs. You must do this now because once you get things moving, it’s not at all unusual that you’ll get stressed, and all these beliefs on your list will pop into your head, making you feel even more anxious. When that happens, you want to be able to turn to your well-thought-out arguments instead of having to think of something on the spot.
Now that you’ve prepared yourself mentally, it’s time to get to the next stage, researching your idea.
You’ll first want to think about what problem your idea can solve, how big that problem is, and how solving that problem makes people’s lives better. If you take any company and strip it down to its core function, the reason it exists and makes a profit is that it can solve a problem.
For example, Amazon made online shopping more affordable and convenient.
Once you’ve figured this out, you need to see if there’s a market for it. Who will want to buy your product or service? Even if your idea is an excellent solution, if not that many people care about this problem, it might mean that your potential market is so small that you can’t make enough money to stay afloat. Before you move on to the other stages, you need to do a full market analysis to find out what your target audience is and how it would react to your idea.
Focus on questions such as:
- If I turn my idea into a product or service, who will buy it?
- How high is the demand?
- Who else is selling a solution to this problem?
- Are they successful?
- Why or why not?
- What price can I put on my product or service?
- How is my idea better than what’s already on the market?
As you’re looking for answers to these questions, you’ll be able to determine how feasible your idea is. You might be at this stage for several months, and that’s ok because the time you invest now will help you save time, effort, and funds during later stages.
If your idea turns out to be just what people needed, you’ll feel more motivated than ever before, and it will push you into the planning stage where you have to come up with a business model.
Even though we love stories about brilliant and ambitious entrepreneurs starting companies all by themselves, in reality, that almost never happens. You’ll need business partners who can act as your support network. It also helps to get in touch with other entrepreneurs and look for platforms like idea4invention.com since this will give you a chance to talk to someone more experienced about your aspiration and concerns. You’ll gain invaluable knowledge.
As for financial support, you’ll have to come up with a business plan and a financial forecast. This includes a “bottom-up” approach that revolves around how your product and service will be developed and marketed to the individual customers, as well as “top-down” which focuses on the size of your market.
You’ll need to make realistic estimates of your overhead cost, cash flow, and profit, usually over the next three to five years. If you don’t know how to do that, don’t worry. As we said before, all of this can be learned. You can also get help from a start-up consultant or an accountant. Thorough research and a detailed financial plan will help you secure investors, even if in the beginning, these investors are mostly friends and family.