Whether you’re a budding serial entrepreneur or feel like having a project on the side, turning your ideas into a business is not an impossible feat. But it does require some work, persistence, and patience. This step-by-step guide shows you the smart and simple way to turn your ideas into the business you’ve always wanted.
Step 1: Break your idea down into the simplest form possible
Ideas are one thing, but turning them into actual businesses? That’s a whole different story. With a pen and paper or Word Doc, write these questions down and answer them.
- What is your idea?
- Is it a product or a service?
- How will people use it or receive it?
- What kind of marketing will you use?
- Do you have the funds to do this? What about money? How much money do you think you will need to launch? Do you need to raise capital, if so what will your business plan look like and who will it be pitched to?
Once you’ve broken the idea into its most basic components, write them down and then think through what would be required to accomplish each of those steps. The more details you have at this stage in the process, the better. You can always go back and change things later on, but getting everything out on paper now will save time later.
There are tools available for you to help you achieve your goals. Some of the most popular brainstorming tools are:
Mural.ly is a great tool to help you break your idea down into the simplest form possible. It’s a visual collaboration and brainstorming tool that lets you create boards and use sticky notes to display ideas, concepts, and even images.
Miro is a cloud-based collaborative whiteboard platform designed for agile teams of 10 to 10,000. It enables product discovery, design thinking, brainstorming and agile planning.
SimpleDiagrams is a desktop application that helps you express your ideas quickly and simply. It’s a tool for making diagrams and sketching out ideas on your computer. SimpleDiagrams is built using Adobe Flash technology, which means it can run on any major operating system, on or offline.
Step 2: Research your idea
Many business owners get so excited about an idea that they will dive right in, without first making sure that there’s an actual market for the product or service they’d like to offer.
Take the time to research your idea thoroughly. Talk to potential customers and ask them whether they would buy this product or service, and how much they would be willing to pay for it. If you’ve come up with a new kind of product, see if there are any patents or trademarks that might restrict your ability to sell it.
While you’re at it, see if anyone else is already selling a similar product or service, and find out what they’re charging.
Some of the things you should consider are:
- Do people want or need it?
- Who will buy it?
- How do customers find out about it?
- Can you make money from it?
Research is key to making sure your idea is viable, just make sure that you remove any bias you may have in the way you are researching. Also, consider how viable your idea is based on current trends in the market when choosing a niche for your business.
Here’s a list of tools to help you Research your idea:
Google Surveys is a tool that lets you create custom surveys and reach people on the websites they visit every day across devices. Google says that your survey will be targeted to an audience of up to 500 respondents.
Survey Monkey is an online service for creating, distributing, and analyzing online surveys. With a free account, you can create, distribute and analyze an unlimited number of surveys or questions with up to 10 questions per survey and 100 responses per survey. Paid accounts offer more features like unlimited responses and questions per survey, custom theme options, data exporting, and more.
Step 3: Find your market
If you want to turn your ideas into a business, but you don’t know your market, it’s going to be hard. You’ll need to know who your customers are, and what type of people will buy from you.
You can start by asking yourself these questions:
- Who are my customers?
- What do they need?
- What situation are they in?
- How can I solve their problems?
If you’ve got an idea for a business, it’s important to know that not every market is right for your product. It’s better to be late to the party than to show up with something nobody wants.
The first step should always be researching. Look into what other similar companies are doing, and see where you can fit in that market. Once you have an idea of who your market is and how you’ll best serve them, get started!
The best tools that can help you find your market include:
Facebook Power Editor is a good tool to find your audience on Facebook. You can create “look-alike” audiences based on people who already like your page.
Step 4: Determine your finances
Step 5: Decide on a marketing strategy
Most first-time entrepreneurs make a lot of the same mistakes when they try to market their businesses.
Most first-time entrepreneurs make a lot of the same mistakes when they try to market their businesses. First, you need to decide on a marketing strategy. Who are you selling to? How are you reaching them? What will you do once they’ve found you?
Here are some tips on how to come up with a strategy that will allow you to grow your company:
- Identify your target audience
- Determine where your target customers live and what kind of media they consume
- Understand how your product or service fits in with what they need
- Set advertising goals and create an advertising budget
The best way to do this is to start with a simple marketing strategy. Remember that your primary goal is still profit, so be succinct, but cover all of the bases. After you have determined what is most important to you and how you want your business to be perceived, then start on the tactics. Write down each tactic and if you plan on outsourcing or using in-house staffing, it’s easier when you map it out from the beginning. There are tools that can help you achieve your marketing goals.
Step 6: Make a business plan
When you’re preparing to launch a business, your first instinct might be to jump right in—but it’s better to slow down and make a business plan. A business plan is an organized, detailed document that lays out your business idea and the steps for making it happen.
A business plan is essentially a document that addresses your company’s goals and how you intend to achieve them, and it can serve as a roadmap for not only yourself but investors as well.
A business plan should include:
- A summary of your business
- A description of your product or service
- An analysis of your industry and competitors
- A marketing strategy
- A financial snapshot
Many small businesses fail to reach the next level because of a poor business plan. The initial investment into making a business plan doesn’t have to be exorbitant. In fact, there are plenty of ways for small businesses to make a business plan without breaking the bank. Here are some simple ideas that can help steer your business in the right direction.
Here are some tools to help you make a business plan: