Every business starts with an idea, but not every idea is the basis for a viable business. Choosing the right idea and then transforming it into a successful business is both an art and a science. It is also a complex, convoluted process at which few people excel.
Nevertheless, there are some truly successful serial entrepreneurs. They agree on certain key recommendations. Here are six tips for transforming your idea into a business reality.
Choose an idea that triggers your passion
If you’re a creative person, you can probably come up with a few business ideas every day. But you cannot and should not develop all of those ideas! Find the one that is closest to your heart, something that solves a problem which has always bothered you, that sparks your imagination, or that answers a question which intrigues you.
Do research for the purpose of due diligence
There is one critical task to undertake before you go any further: conduct research to determine whether your idea is unique. If someone else is already developing the business idea in another part of the continent, you should probably drop it (unless your approach is distinctive).
Ask for feedback
Pitch your idea to people you know, and perhaps some people you don’t know: your colleagues, customers, and friendly retailers. Ask them to critique the idea, and encourage honesty. If you get a series of red lights or lukewarm responses, you’ll know the idea is not worth pursuing. On the other hand, if you receive strongly positive responses, the idea may be worth developing.
Create a prototype or sample product
There is no substitute for actual market testing, so spend the money necessary to develop a product that is minimally viable, whether it is a physical product or a piece of software. After you create the working prototype, get it on local store shelves and/or into a few Internet marketplaces, and wait for customer responses. If it fails to catch fire at this stage, your losses are small. If the early response is positive and orders begin coming in, you’ll know you might have a winner.
Determine whether the idea is financially viable
An important step is to determine whether you can make money from this idea. If the production costs result in a unit price that is more than consumers are willing to pay for the item, you cannot proceed any further. On the other hand, if this calculation demonstrates that you can make a healthy profit on each unit, you can proceed full speed ahead.
Develop a business plan.
The business plan is the final stage in the evolution from idea to reality. Once you complete this document, you can begin collecting the resources (capital, technology, personnel) necessary to convert the idea into a business. Then you can go into full production and begin distribution.
While there is no single blueprint for successfully transforming an idea into a profitable business, the steps outlined above are strongly recommended. This approach should ensure that the resulting business has the potential to be profitable, although of course success cannot be assured.
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