Have you been dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur for a while? You have numerous ideas yet you don’t quite know how to get started and turn your idea into a product?
In March 2020 there were 800 000 companies in the US that were less than 1 year old, according to Statista. So if others can do it, why can’t you? With a great idea, a can-do attitude, and commitment, you can achieve anything.
In this article, you will find information on how to take the first steps to make your dream a reality, to draft up a viable business plan, and create a sustainable product out of it.
Chasing a dream
Most likely you have come up with an idea that will solve one problem or another. And this is the very core of every product and service – you are not just providing a solution, you are solving a problem.
And this is exactly how success stories begin. Let’s take AirBnB’s journey to success for an example:
- The problem: Not being able to pay rent in San Francisco.
- The opportunity: Big design conference held in the city, hotel rooms being booked out months in advance.
- The solution: Offering a place in their apartment for overnight stay and earning a few extra bucks.
Just like that, an idea for a multi billion company started to take shape. And the rest is history.
The road of problem solving via innovation
Once one problem is solved with a new and innovative idea, it can create a fertile ground for new ideas to grow.
E-commerce used to be expensive and inconvenient. Then Amazon came and changed our attitude towards e-commerce and today, there’s hardly anyone who hasn’t made an online purchase at least once.
When e-commerce became a new trend, it made merchants face many new problems that required solutions. In fact, as everything is becoming digitised then no matter which business you are in, the following aspects that came up with e-commerce will be relevant for your business too:
- How to ensure people find the information they need and make a purchase? What is required for providing a great customer service online? Click here to find out about providing good customer service without ever meeting your customers.
- How will products be delivered to customers? Should your products/services be available overseas?
- How to stay in personal contact with customers?
As you can see, the road of innovation can be endless. Where one solution is offered, another problem or question arises. There’s always a way to streamline the process and perhaps you are the one who has got the solution for it.
But of course, an idea by itself will not be fruitful. Polishing your product or service and getting it ready to be out on the market, requires a lot of creative thinking and persistent efforts over a long period of time.
So without further ado, let’s get started and turn your idea into a product.
1. Understand the demand
Inspiration can strike because we have been faced with a problem and feel that our idea could change the world. No matter how great the idea is, conducting thorough research is necessary to understand who your competitors are and where you would fit in the market.
It’s quite likely that someone is already providing a similar solution. This, however, doesn’t eliminate you from the game.
In the world of innovation, success is defined by getting the timing right. Seeing that other people are thinking along the same lines should give you reassurance that this is the perfect time for taking your product from concept to market.
- Who are your competitors who they are targeting?
- Are they successful? Why or why not?
- How does your product differ from theirs? What additional value does it bring?
However, if you cannot find anything similar to your invention, it might indicate that the market is not yet ready for it. This doesn’t mean that your product is inevitably on the road to failure, you will just have to take into account that it might take more effort to get your product out there.
- What current demand is there for your idea?
- If your innovation is a product, who will buy it?
- If your innovation is a service, who will use it?
One of the simplest ways to answer all these questions and figure out what it will take to get your product out there is to perform a SWOT analysis. This way you will clearly see what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with launching your idea.
2. Research the market
So naturally, the next step is to figure out if your product has a market. Will people be willing to pay for your product or service?
Some steps you can take to understand if your idea is what people are looking for:
- Consult your family and friends. However, keep in mind that their opinion might be biased because they want the best for you. They might not even be the right target group for your product, yet it will still be good to know what they’re thinking.
- Have informal interviews with stores and customers. You could try conducting a survey to further understand the need for your product/service.
- Talk to people with expertise in your product market. Find out what are the newest innovations in the area and what struggles you might face.
Even in the early steps of product invention, marketing should always be in the back of your mind. Without having a marketing plan that can be executed, the public will never be aware of your product.
Thinking of marketing along the way will help you save a lot of time and headache in the future.
3. Don’t try to go solo
You might have come up with something extraordinary and are afraid to share it with anyone. What if someone steals your idea? This you can avoid by filing a patent. But trying to achieve everything on your will be a struggle.
Even if you are a multi-tasker, having someone else on board with a different set of skills than you will give you an advantage. So find someone who is passionate about turning your idea into a product.
Benefits of having a business partner:
- Opportunity for brainstorming. Sharing ideas and perfecting together will have more results.
- Possibility to work on multiple things at once. Even doing market research will be more thorough with a second view on everything.
- Motivational support. Everyone feels like giving up at some point. Having someone by your side won’t let you give in to that feeling so easily.
- Financial support. Starting a business will have its costs and it’s always good to have a little backup.
You should also consider joining an accelerator or incubator to get your idea forward. You will get valuable information on funding, start building an entrepreneur network, have a mentor and receive many more benefits.
4. Write a business plan
Drafting up your business plan will take you through each step of starting and running a business as well as help you attract investors. You can think of a business plan as a useful way for considering all the key elements necessary for getting your business off the ground.
According to SBA.gov, a business plan should include:
- Executive summary. An overview of what your business is and why it will be successful.
- Company description. Detailed description of what you do and what problems your business solves.
- Market analysis. Outline what other businesses are doing and what are their strengths and weaknesses. How can you outperform them?
- Organization and management. Show the team behind your business and everyone’s unique experience that contributes to your venture.
- Service or product line. Describe in detail what service or product your company offers and how it benefits your customer.
- Marketing and sales. Show how you will be able to attract and retain customers and nudge them to make a purchase.
- Funding request. This is important when you are looking for investors and funding. Cover how much funding is needed over the next 5 years and what it will be used for.
- Financial projections. Convince the reader that your business is stable and sustainable. Explain your projections and make sure they align with your funding request.
Once you have completed your business plan you are a one big step closer to turning your idea into a product.
A summary: taking a product from concept to market
These 4 steps covered in this article are only the very beginning that will help your idea to take shape in the form of a real life product. Building a sustainable business is a long road with no guarantee for success.
The best you can do is to adapt your idea on the go and see what works and what doesn’t. And don’t forget to remind yourself from time to time:
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
- Mistakes are part of the process
- Just dive in and keep going
- Fail often and fail early
It’s all a learning point and with persistence you will gain invaluable experience that one day will bring your idea to life.