Start-up development is the process of building a company from the ground up. It’s one of the most effective ways to create meaningful change, build an enduring business, and significantly impact society. Starting at square one with lots of unknowns is both enticing and discouraging at once! However, there are plenty of valid reasons why it can be worth investing in start-ups – especially if you have some capital to invest upfront on developing your idea into reality.
Here are the six steps every would be entrepreneur should take when thinking about their business idea:
1) Define The Idea – Once you think it might make for a good business idea, the key is defining the idea. Defining the idea can be as simple as just writing something down describing the idea. If that’s too much then you can even try drawing a mock-up of your product or service.
2) Find A Need For The Idea – This is way too often overlooked by would be entrepreneurs – they hit up their friends and family with, “Hey what do you think of my idea?” and go from there. This is completely backwards and shows you haven’t thought about your idea enough to see if people will actually buy it. Go out and find out if your target audience (aka: customers) really needs the product or service you’re thinking about creating before you go any further. It’s the same idea as finding out if your potential investors need what you’re thinking about.
3) Create A Plan For The Idea – Now that you’ve defined and found a need for your idea, create a plan for how to go about building it. Having a plan will help you so much. Remember you don’t have to do everything at once, pick what’s most important and focus on it first. Here is an example (these are time frames as well as suggested steps):
Phase 1: Draft up plans for the product or service – This should be the least amount of time spent on this dominant phase because all of the work happens here and now. **You’re going to be creating not just the idea but the plan as well – keep it simple and don’t get too distracted by details.
Phase 2: Build a prototype of your product or service – If you’ve followed the entire first phase then you should have a pretty good idea of what you want to build.
Build a prototype before moving on to developing your sales, marketing and production strategies. This way, when the time comes to cross that finish line, you’ll know exactly what you need to do and won’t waste valuable time debating which way is best for your product.
Phase 3: Plan marketing strategy – Once you’ve built your prototype, you’ll need to develop a marketing strategy. Here are a few ideas for how your can do this:
1) Create a budget and start budgeting – Decide on the amount of time you need to spend developing the idea and how much you can afford to spend on marketing. You have to have a budget here as well as a break-even point based upon your anticipated revenue from your idea.
2) Get out there and market – Now that you’ve created an actual functioning product or service, go out into the world and let people try it! Always ask questions of those that have tried it first.
3) Go back and listen to those who tried it – No matter where you market your idea, whether it’s Facebook, the local farmers market or the World Wide Web, you’re going to get feedback and criticism. Take that criticism and use it for your next iteration of your product or service. Also ask them for any suggestions they might have that could make it even better. The more feedback you can get from real life people, the better.
Phase 4: Plan production strategy – Replicate the prototype as many times as you need to in order to reach your desired amount of sales (based upon how much revenue you want). Always remember that the purpose of this phase is to minimize time delays between iterations.
Phase 5: Plan distribution strategy – Once you’ve produced enough units, how are you planning on getting them out to your customers? There are so many different methods you can use so don’t waste time on this if you aren’t sure. Just remember, the more customers you have, the faster you can sell through your current inventory and replace it with new inventory based upon customer’s needs. The more you sell through your inventory, the more money you’ll have to work with.
Phase 6: Plan for growth – As you sell more and more of your product or service, build a plan for continually growing. You could either keep allocating resources into marketing or use that money to increase production so that production costs are kept lower over time. Whatever you decide, make sure to set specific goals for how much you would like to make within certain timelines. The objective here isn’t to make money; it’s about developing the business so that progress will continue well after the initial start-up phase has come to an end.
Phase 7: Start it – Here’s where you start doing what you planned. Remember that the time frames you set during phases 3 and 4 are just that – time frames. Don’t get put off or discouraged if they take longer than expected to complete. Just do your best to make the most of every day, get feedback along the way and keep improving!
4) Build Your Team – From marketing to production, marketing to finance, marketing to design, marketing to management – who is going to be on your team? You can’t go everywhere or do everything at once so don’t try. Find the core team members that you need for your company. Pick the best candidates and put them to work! You may also want to take a look at hiring an executive coach to help guide you through the process. They will be able to steer you into some profitable ideas as well as help you develop your business plan better.
5) Build Your Brand – Now that you have a team of people who can all work together as a unit, it’s time to build a brand. Think about how this is going to look on various mediums, from websites, social media profiles and all types of marketing materials – print, radio, TV and so on. Pay attention to competition and what they’re doing – both wrong and right – so you can incorporate some of their good ideas while eliminating the bad.
6) Launch The Product or Service. This is it! You’ve done all of the hard work and now it’s time for you to take off. Pick a launch date and stick with it. Don’t think about how much work needs to be done, just get your team together and launch it without delay!
7) Follow Through & Market – Now that you’ve launched your product or service, don’t forget about marketing. Keep following through on your plan and keep marketing! Always pay attention to what you’re doing and make adjustments accordingly. You’ll also want to tighten up production so you have enough inventory for the initial phases of sales. Just make sure to keep improving along the way!
8) Continue Growing & Optimizing – Your product or service may not do as well as you planned but that’s to be expected. You never know what other companies are doing at any given time to get people interested in the same thing. The value of an idea is often more important than its actuality. Many of the most successful companies on the planet are built on ideas that don’t initially seem trustworthy or believable at first. For example, Airbnb started off holding “unconventional” short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, but today it has become one of the world’s largest hospitality industries spanning multiple regions around the globe.
You can start a company with little money or capital if you have some wiggle room to invest upfront in red flags. If you can afford to put up $10,000 to develop your idea, it likely won’t make much difference if you fail and decide to pursue a different idea that will require more funding and will take more time. Investing in start-ups can be a rewarding and rewarding experience — especially for those willing to take the risks involved with launching a small business. Fintalent can help ease the troubles of Start-Ups by matching you with a Start Up Expert that can help grow your business. For those fortunate enough to succeed, their future could potentially be transformed forever.