Guest Blog written by Stuart McClure, Co-founder of Lovethesales.com
Creating business ideas is exciting. Working on an idea that you have thought of is both liberating and rewarding. However, narrowing your ideas into one cohesive business plan is a challenge in itself, one which if done right can set you on a path to creating your dream business.
Here are 5 actions you can take to refine your business ideas and ensure you have the best launch pad for your next project.
Choosing the right idea
Having focus is important for an entrepreneur. You might have thousands of half thought out ideas and not know which one to focus on. So how do you know which is your best idea? I’d suggest keeping a list of all your ideas. Then, when you’re ready, you should put each potential idea through this exercise.
Take one of your ideas and write the name for it in the middle of a blank A4 page. Then answer the following questions, writing the answers around the outside of the idea:
- What problem does this solve? How big is that problem? Why are you sure it’s a problem?
- Has it already been done?
- What barriers to entry can you create? (What would make it difficult for someone with more resources to come in and compete against you?)
- What’s the potential market size?
- What money would you need to invest to start the business and make it profitable?
- What skills do you need in your team to get it going? How will you find people with those skills? Can you get it going by yourself?
After this exercise you should be able to filter out implausible ideas and be left with your most viable options.
Putting your proposal into one sentence
You need to have a clear picture of what your business offers, who it will help and what is its biggest benefit. You should be able to put all that information into one sentence, like the one in this template:
(“My business is, _(insert name of business)_, we develop _(define your product or service)_ to help _(define your audience)_ _(the problem you are solving for them)_ by _(main benefit of the business )_”).
Mine looked like this:
“My business is LovetheSales.com, we are a discount aggregator that brings the sale products from 850 retailers, into one place. We help shoppers save money on the brands they love by finding the best deals across the web.”
This exercise is really useful for the actions below, where you will need to describe your idea succinctly to people (Will they understand it?)
Test your idea
Start sharing your idea with the people around you. Anyone who can spare 5 minutes to hear your proposal. This is a great way to get direct feedback on what’s good and not so good about your idea. Did they understand it? Do they have problems with it? Try to collect feedback from at least 30 people. It would also be an added bonus if some of them are your target customers.
It can be difficult to listen to criticism of your ideas from others, however it’s really important to try to elicit this kind of feedback without getting defensive. It can save you a lot of wasted time and effort. Getting early feedback, no matter how brutal it is, will help you to adjust your plan and give you a higher chance of success.
Tip: Try and get peoples uninfluenced and unbiased opinions. Refrain from interrupting or trying to change their objections with new information. The best feedback is fresh, unaltered first impressions.
Attend regular events related to your industry
You should try and become a mini expert of the industry you’re about to enter. Like a research project, you’re finding out who the major players are, the supply chain, the audience it attracts etc. Don’t try and overload yourself with all the information at once, it will take time and doesn’t happen overnight.
The best way to start is to attend regular events that would concern your business. For example, if you are starting a recruitment company, you want to attend recruitment conferences, business talks and meet ups that involve relevant people in that industry.
Eventbrite is a great tool to find these types of events near you. If you have a niche business and you can’t find events relating to your idea, try broadening your search to general business lectures, Marketing & PR events and so on.
Tip: These events are also fantastic for networking. Set up a LinkedIn and have it open and ready to share with new contacts you meet.
Find a good mentor
Good advice is like gold dust and having the right team around you is a critical part of successfully building your idea. Reach out to your university business professors, the Enterprise team at your university or join the entrepreneur society, try to find people who wouldn’t mind offering you bits of guidance from time to time.
There will be plenty of entrepreneurs and business leaders that are happy to pass on their wealth of knowledge. LinkedIn is also a great tool to keep in touch with these contacts.
Stuart McClure is the co-founder of a company called LovetheSales.com – a website that aggregates sale items from 100’s of retailers into one website, helping consumers to find the best deals on products they want.
He has 14 years experience in digital marketing and business management and, before starting his company, worked in a number of multi-million pound businesses in senior positions.
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/stuartmcclure/
LovetheSales.com – https://www.lovethesales.com/