There are countless of great ideas, but over time, only few actually materialize into a business. And of those few, even fewer survive long enough to finally break even from expenses and start earning profits. Converting a great idea into reality can be perplexing, to say the least. And since startups don't really come with an instruction manual, a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs are confused as to how they can start taking concrete steps that will transform their idea into a viable business. Below is a road map that can apply to any type and size of business.
Validate Your Idea
An idea that might sound clever to you might not sound clever to everyone else. Make sure there is a market or niche that is in need of your product or service. There are many ways to seek feedback including talking to others about the idea, particularly people you trust. Avoid divulging the business idea to just anyone and everyone you meet. Moreover, avoid the impulse of sharing it on social media. Others who might already have the resources can easily walk in, steal the idea, and pass it off as their own. Before you share your business idea to the outside world, make sure to have the necessary patents, permits, and copyrights for it. In the end, if you are the only person who genuinely believes in the business, then it's probably time to reassess.
Create an MVP
If your idea gained validation., a minimum viable product or MVP should be the next phase of building your startup. An MVP is an actual model of your product or service. An MVP is the earliest representation or version of your product or service. It's something people can use and interact with, without the design elements that make up the overall user experience. An MVP is crucial once you start looking for qualified manufacturers, suppliers, and exporters as well as when you start approaching angel investors and lenders for funding.
Get the Word Out
Once you have an MVP, it's time to build your customer base. Remember, at this stage, no one except you and a handful of your most trusted family members and friends know about your business. And while they will make good and loyal customers, your business won't grow by just selling to them. Start making waves by spreading the word out to your social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Scatter posters and leave business cards around town. If you have the finances for it, you can even rent out a billboard to really raise some attention for your brand.
Get a Website Up and Running
According to key findings by the Small Business website, more than 70 percent of small businesses today have an active dedicated website while majority of those 30 percent of businesses say they are planning to launch one before the year is over. These statistics and many others like it all point to the clear fact that a website is vital. Get a website up and running to expand your brand exposure to the rest of the world.
Figure Out a Customer Acquisition Plan
A business plan is great and all, but your initial draft will likely be obsolete by the time you've actually started the business. A customer acquisition plan that answers the questions "how do I get my first customer?" and "how do I get my Nth customer?" will remain relevant for as long as the business is up and running. Without a solid acquisition plan, your business will run into huge problems, such as expensive acquisition rates and volatile earnings reports. This piece of information is also commonly expected by prospective investors and business partners.
Great ideas don't just sprout out of the ground overnight. Everyone has to start from somewhere. Use the five tips above to gain some traction as an entrepreneur and start creating your startup one brick at a time.