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?