One thing I love about my life and my job is all the interesting people I get to meet and all the cool ideas they have. Collectively our species has a lot of creativity and problem solving skills!
One question I get asked a lot is how to move your business from idea to reality. So I put together this quick, high level guide.
1. Fantasize. Envision. Dream
- This is my favorite phase. Let yourself go crazy daydreaming. This is not only great fun (and neurologically healthy) it lets you develop a detailed vision for your business. Sketch out your ideas, keep a Pinterest board, make a vision board, chat with your friends. Whatever helps you dive into the vision. If your business comes to fruition it will probably look very different than the fantasy. But that is how you get the big pieces in place and develop the vision that will guide you. And it will help you determine some very important questions, including what is going to make your business special and different from any other one in the world? What will you do better than anyone else? Who will use your business and why?
You can write a business plan next but I usually just start to look at the numbers now that you have your vision. What is it going to cost for your equipment, website, marketing plan, real estate, accounting and attorney fees? What are your ongoing costs going to be. (Hint, higher than you think, I promise).
When you have a sense for what your initial investment would be as well as your monthly expenses you can start to determine what you would have to charge to cover your expenses and make a profit.
3. Your model
Your business model will vary greatly depending on the industry and may have to adapt and change as you launch and as the world changes. Will you have a subscription model? Hourly fees? Retail? How are customers going to give you money?
4. Research your market
Now that you have a vision for your business and a sense for how much you would have to charge, you can research the market formally and informally. Most likely a lot of people will want your product or service. Everyone wants everything in our society. The question is will they pay for it? And, how much? Identify your target market and determine how accessible your business is going to be to them. How interesting? What will they pay for it?
5. Business Plan
If it seems you can make money and you are still moving full steam ahead after this, it is worth the time and energy to get into more detail. Write a business plan. There are lots of business plan templates that can be downloaded for free. I usually recommend this one from SCORE.
6. Look for Money
If your idea is going to cost more money than you have, or are willing to spend, you will have to look for a way to raise the money. This can be done through bank financing, investors, crowd funding, home mortgage or any number of other ways. Determine which one makes sense for your business.
When you have all these pieces in place, you are ready to start executing your business plan!