You have the next big idea, but feel like you’re missing the know how to turn your idea into a business. You’re not alone, most entrepreneurs in training feel like they’re missing some sort of secret sauce. You’re as capable as the leaders in your niche. Here’s 5 steps to turn your idea into a real business:
1. Put the squeeze on your idea
Lets face it, ideas are sexy. They’re fun to share and romanticize about. I call it the honeymoon because in this phase you’re blind to problems and challenges. Before you invest make sure you analyze your market. Get a handle on your customer description, segments, growth trends and identify your competition. Get to know your business and start to think like your customers.
2. Think like an entrepreneur, not like a tech startup
You’re not Sean Parker or Mark Zuckerberg. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can launch a startup and worry about making money later. An entrepreneur runs a business. A business’s main purposes is to solve a problem, drive revenue and profit. Until you identify and execute on a revenue model your idea is not a business.
Stop thinking like an employee. Identifying problems is good, but solving problems is better. Don’t Tim Ferriss aka delegate your way into failure. Delegating is a reward and by-product of growth. Identify, learn and solve your own problems.
3. Build a minimum viable product (MVP)
A minimum viable product by definition is quick quantitative market testing for a product. This means you should stick to your core offering and sideline other features. Here are websites & tools I use to streamline my MVP:
- Go Daddy for domain registration & hosting
- WordPress for content management system (CMS)
- WordPress themes: Woo Themes, Elegant Themes, Themeforest, etc
- Google Apps for team chat, email, docs & calendar
- Trello for collaboration and project management
The key here is simplicity and time to market. Develop your core idea as quickly as possible.
Once you’ve developed your MVP it’s time to get out of the office and into conversations with your target market.
- ReferenceUSA is the premiere database information resource for reference and research
- Mail Chimp is used for email marketing and email list management
- Survey Monkey is for market research surveys, online polls, customer satisfaction surveys, etc.
Create a beta invite list, reach out to introduce yourself and cultivate those relationships. Ask questions like:
- Is this solving a problem you currently have?
- What else would be helpful?
- Would you pay for this service/product?
- How much would you pay?
Get creative with the Q&A and close deals. It helps if you can provide incentives for their time and feedback.
5. Learn & iterate
Pay close attention to where your time is invested. If it’s not being funneled towards actionable tasks that move your business forward then you’re missing the mark. Iterate something that improves your offering every day. Keep track of every step you’ve taken and notate your wins and losses.
I use the following app:
- Evernote helps you remember and act upon ideas, projects and experiences across any device
Utilize the tools listed above to collect data, collaborate and improve your offering. It’s easy to lose focus during the startup phase because there’s so much to do. I’m reminded of Bob Parsons 16 rules for success; specifically rule #9:
“Measure everything of significance. I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.”
Make 2013 the year you made the shift from employee to employer. There’s never enough time, money or resources. Roof caving in? Then it’s time to raise the ceiling! Start by reading the lean startup by Eric Ries.
What are you waiting for?
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Awesome article. Thanks for the words of wisdom, Nima. Very insightful.
Thanks, Aaron. Always great to see you on the blog.
Lean startup is always a great resource to go back to. I just got it on Audio. I also recommend Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Fantastic book if you are already running your own business or in management working for someone else.
Greg, thanks for the recommendation. I finished Rework a few months ago. I agree, it was a great read that goes against the grain.
Take aways that were mostly reminders:
He says, “Emulate drug dealers” aka work the freemium model.
Scrap the biz plan; startups are constantly evolving– Be nimble.
Communicate like a human; avoid using words like “ASAP.” <– Don’t be that guy. Meetings are a poor use of time. Utilize chat sessions. Tired people make poor decisions. Work in sustainable bursts. Don’t try to please everyone. Be great at serving one audience. Inspiration is perishable. Maximize your momentum or like the saying goes, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Nima, that is one hell of an article, short to the point, and absolutely spot on, thank you.
Thank you, Bill! I really appreciate the positive feedback. Working on my content strategy for 2013. Sign up via RSS to receive future posts automatically.
Excellent, practical insight. Establishes a simple and predictable outline to follow for those in the brainstorming phase of their idea, and if followed, will truly allow them to see if this is a project that should come to fruition. Keep up the great work. I’m definitely RSS’ing the site.
Thanks, Tom. Look forward catching up. Preferably sooner than later
This is very encouraging to me as someone that is navigating through this process right now. One thing I would like to ad (and my FAVORITE app) is any.do for phone and chrome – helps me keep on task. As an added benefit, you get the satisfaction of crossing items off your list. Keep it up the good work! It’s a valuable source of info for me
Thanks, James. I remember reading one of @asocialcontract ‘s (Warren Adelman, former CEO of Go Daddy) tweets about any.do being his fav task related app. I downloaded it, but didn’t take to it for some reason. I’ll give any.do another try based on your recommendation.
Thanks for Sharing this Information. . .
~Patricia – DomainBELL
My pleasure, Patricia. Great seeing you on the blog. Wish you a blessed 2013!