It doesn’t matter who you are or even how much you hope to grow your company because you have to figure out what kind of product you are going to build and the services that you have to offer. You could rely on your gut, and sometimes this will pay off, but you have to make sure that you do other forms of research as well. If you do then you will soon find that you are able to really reap the benefits without having to worry about a thing.
Document Any Key Assumptions you Have about your Company
When you are first thinking about your business idea, you need to skip the business plan and instead create a lean plan, or even a simple elevator pitch. This will help you to get the basic components down and it will also help you to flesh out what exactly you want to achieve. So what problem are you solving? You have to make sure that you are solving some kind of issue that exists in the world. If you are not solving a problem for your customers then they won’t buy from you because you won’t be providing something of value. So think about it, how are your potential customers solving the issues they have today? This is where you ideally want to write down a couple of notes about your competition. You can then find out what choices your customers have and if your solution is better. Do you think you are going to be able to make more money by doing what you do? You don’t need to worry about this too much at this stage, but it helps to have a basic idea so you can push your ideas forward a bit. The key to this step is to write down any key assumptions quickly. Half an hour should be more than enough for you to plan everything you need out, so that you can take that next step and solidify the validity of your idea. Want to find out more? Check out this guide on “why concept testing is important”
Talk to your Customers
Talking to customers about their potential idea is a step that most entrepreneurs skip out on. If you don’t talk to your customers, then this really does increase the chances of your business failing. Go outside and talk to as many people as you can about your idea. If you do this, then you will soon find that you can experience way more success and that your chances of failure are drastically reduced. Of course, it’s very helpful for you to try and interview your potential customers. Do they have the problem that you’re assuming they have? How do they solve their issues? What do they think of your idea? You have to make sure that you talk to them so that you can get their point of view on things and you can also gain valuable insight into their offices and their workspaces too. You can find out how they like to work, how they make the buying decisions they do and more. As you begin to learn more about things like this, you can then begin to make things work in your favour even more.
Show your Prospective Clients your Product
If you can, and if it makes sense for your company, you need to try and share an example of your solution with your customers. If you know that you are going to be building a product, then you can share a prototype or even what it looks like. If you know that you are going to be offering a service, then try and describe the results of that service and what the deliverables would be if the prospect happened to hire you.
Find Out What People Are Willing to Pay
As you begin to talk to your potential customers, you need to find out what they are willing to pay in order to receive your solution. This can be tricky at times because at the end of the day, everyone wants something for free. That being said, there are some tips and tricks that you can use to try and find out what your customers would be willing to pay. First of all, you have to decide if there are any competitors in the market. You need to look at their pricing and you need to find out what makes your company different. You can then create a price based on that. When you have your price, you can then ask your customer if they would like to order the service right now, for the price you have stated. You may find that some people say yes instantly, or that other people give you some feedback on what they think the price should be. Either way, it’s a good way for you to find out everything you need to know.
Find People Who Don’t Like your Idea
As you bounce the idea you have to your family and friends, you will soon find that you end up hearing just positive feedback. Even potential customers might not want to hurt your feelings by telling you that they don’t like your idea, or that they think that it is not worth the money. You don’t have to address every single weak point that your detractors find but you do need to try and gather feedback from those who think you have the potential to improve. Not everyone is going to be your customer but at the end of the day, it helps to head into a business endeavour with open eyes if possible. Are there any potential pitfalls that you have not thought about yet? Getting feedback from your customers is a crucial step and it can help you to build your business far more than you realise. At this stage, you will be able to find out if you have a winning conclusion on the table. You need to figure out at this stage how viable your business is and if there is anything that you can do to get your idea off the ground. Start by building some financial projections and find out how much money you need to get your company up and running. Ideally, you will need to try and create a sales forecast and you will also need to have a cash flow forecast as well. If you do this, then you will then be able to keep your business in good shape.
Start out Small
It’s very tempting for you to dive right into the deep end and then build your entire business in the way that you envisioned it all along. Sure, this may seem like a good idea but you need to try and resist this urge if you can. Start out small and then continue gathering feedback from your customers. This will help you to grow and it will also give you a much better start overall. If you have a smaller start then you will soon find that you can change direction faster and you can also react to the feedback of your customers faster too. If you start out small, then you will be able to get your solution out there faster and you will also be able to get feedback faster too. When you open your business with this approach, you will feel as though you are ready for whatever lies ahead and you will also be able to keep up with the demand of your customers much more too. Another bonus of starting out small is that you can easily stop yourself from growing beyond your capabilities, and you can also save a lot of money at the same time.
The final step in making sure that your business idea is solid would be for you to try and be as flexible as possible. The best business owners tend to check their ego at the door, and they listen to whatever feedback their customers give them. This doesn’t mean that you have to adopt the “customer is always right” approach. It means that you need to adapt as you go, and you also need to change directions from time to time. It may get to the point where you decide that certain potential customers are no longer part of your target market, or that you want to sell to much bigger businesses going forward. Either way, it’s more than possible for you to adjust your pricing and your marketing so that you can reflect this.