09 Jan Three Steps To Better Business Ideas
The prevailing thought nowadays is that being an entrepreneur is a guaranteed way to escape the rat race and join the one percent. This gospel is further spread by financial gurus whose followers range from middle-class clock punchers to retiring OFWs in the hopes of finding the silver bullet to a passive source of limitless income.
Except it is not that easy.
Yes, businesses begin with the spark of an idea, but ideas alone are rudimentary and launching a business based on them alone is taking a step closer to insolvency. In this article, we offer three steps to help polish that gem of an inspiration. It does not guarantee riches, but it lessens the likelihood of failing in the first attempt.
Focus on your strengths and start your business from there.
Know your niche
One’s skill set, knowledge, and passion should be enough clues in deciding where time and resources should be spent on. It is possible, for instance, to enter software development without technical knowledge on code with the help of an experienced programmer. Hey, Jack Ma did it with Alibaba, right? But one needs funds to pay for salary, so the fledgling entrepreneur could be better off learning the programming languages himself, which would take a long time.
Entrepreneur and progressive thinker Timothy Ferriss could not have said it better: “Emphasize strengths, don’t fix weaknesses.” It makes more sense to leverage on things that one is already good at than spend time and scant resources in the opposite direction. The first step is to make an inventory of expertise and experience and determine if those can be useful in retail, agriculture, manufacturing, or any other industry.
The best businesses may come from the silliest and “impossible” ideas. Think of ways on how to earn from your strengths.
After determining one’s skill, the next step is to decide on how to put it to use. Even after discovering that one is savvy about the world of cameras, it doesn’t follow that one should start snapping away with a DSLR. The field of photography is quite broad and there are other points of entry that do not involve treading on a heavily beaten track.
The next step is to make another list, this time of ideas associated with one’s chosen product or service. Jot everything down that comes to mind because the silliest ideas might make sense to a certain demographic. For instance, opening a store that sells cameras may not be viable because of the huge capital requirement, but crafting camera accessories (a spin-off) could work even with a small investment. Keep expanding the list until one arrives at something along the lines of “customized camera bags for women”, which is leagues better than a generic store.
Businesses solve the customers’ problems. Before spending a lot on capital, validate what your product or service aims to solve for your customers.
After expanding the list, we came up with several ideas for a camera bag business. But which of them should we go for? This is the part where outside help is needed. Collecting data from one’s prospective customers is an important step to determine if one’s idea can fly in a merciless market.
For our example, the obvious prospects are female shutterbugs. It is important to know their numbers, what they need from a camera bag, and if they are willing to shell out cash for our version of a camera bag. One could do this face to face or use survey tools in the Internet. Even without a product, one could put up a landing page with a sign-up form to test if the bag can attract a following.
Even validation requires a certain level of creativity. The creator of HotPicks, Stephen Key, validated interest for his guitar picks by displaying them on the checkout counter of a gas station. The following day, they had sold out, and the rest, as they say, is history.
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