So you think you want to start a business (the creative freedom, flexibility with your time and deeper fulfilment really sounds appealing) and you think you have an idea… Now what? Most people who think they have a good idea will never turn it into an actual business. They will talk about it to anyone who listens but never do anything about it – or they’ll keep it to themselves so that no one steals the idea; they’ll work on it now and then but never make any real progress; or they’ll dismiss it completely because they don’t know if it’ll work. So what can you do if you want to be one of the few who actually does something about your business?
How do you get your business idea off the ground?
1. Get clear on what the idea is
You may think you have a ‘good idea’ but what exactly is the idea? What problem are you solving? What kind of customer or client has that problem? How will you solve that problem – what products and services will you offer? What makes you a credible person to provide that solution? How will you generate an income? Spend some time really mapping out what the business model would look like so that you can see if the idea really ‘has legs’.
2. Check the idea against your personal success criteria
There’s a reason why you want to start a business and you want to make sure that this idea that you’ve come up with will fulfil that reason. Is it a good match for your skills and interests? Does it fit with your personal values and with your definition of success? What about financial goals, are you confident that this idea can deliver the income you’d need in order to make this into an additional revenue stream (or a full-time business replacing what you’re doing now)? It doesn’t matter if the business succeeds if that success isn’t meaningful to you, and doesn’t deliver on your goals.
Learn how you can design a sustainable business outside of the 9 to 5
The 5 pillars scorecard consists of 50 statements that will help you discover where you are on each pillar, give you an indication of specific areas to focus on, and offer you clear next steps for how to improve your score.
3. Test the idea with real people
You may think you have a good idea – maybe even your friends tell you that it’s good too – but what really matters is how it performs in the real world. Rather than invest time and money in something that you imagine is what people need, you want to put your idea out into the world as soon as possible and test it with potential customers or clients. Are you able to get them the results that you are promising? Do they care? Are they willing to pay? And how do you like the work? This last one is important again because the whole point of building this business is that it brings you more fulfilment (and fun!) than you have now.
4. Work out what you need to do next
Once you’re satisfied that you’ve validated your idea, and refined it in response to the feedback and results of your test, you need to work out what’s next. This doesn’t mean that you need to map out a detailed step-by-step business plan but you do want to have a clear set of first actions and milestones so that you know how to start moving forward. What are the investments needed to make this idea work – website hosting, equipment, advertising? What help will you need to get it off the ground – an accountant, a business coach or mentor, a graphic designer? Are there any skills gaps you need to fill, either by learning something yourself or by partnering with someone who has those missing skills? Work out what you need to do to make this business a reality.
5. Start building an audience
You may not feel ready to focus intensively on your business right now, or maybe you need to wait until you have that missing certification or co-founder to make your business a possibility, but that doesn’t mean you should just wait around. You can’t just decide to sell something from one day to the next, instead, you’ll need to first build an audience. How will people know that you exist? How will you demonstrate your credibility and expertise? How will you build a community of fans who are hungry to buy from you once you’re ready with that first product or service? You don’t want to lose the momentum on your idea so even if (or especially because) some of these things will take time, you want to start sooner rather than later.
If you want help with getting your business idea off the ground and growing it into a thriving business, get in touch to have a chat about how I might be able to help you with my business coaching and mentoring: Apply for a call >>