Remember when you first had your big idea? You know, the one you told all your friends about around the campfire, or maybe shared with your family as an idea for a new business venture. Maybe you even sat down with business colleagues to flesh out how to bring your big idea to life.
What if now is the time to revisit that big idea and seriously see it through the lens of business opportunity? Can you give your big idea a reboot and launch your new business as an entrepreneur?
Yes, yes, you can.
With a renewed sense of inspiration, you want to try and launch your business. And it might even feel like the stars are aligning in your favor, with a host of things happening right now that justify your next steps. The pandemic has forced a new normal on everyone, creating an ideal space for your big idea to take hold. What you need now is a road map. A list of best practices and rational advice on what to do first will keep you laser-focused on your mission.
1. Consider What the Entrepreneurial Experts Say
There’s no shame in getting advice from others. And since this is the first time you’ve stepped into an entrepreneurial space, it’s actually a smart idea to learn from the mistakes others have made before you. So, tap into the gurus and immerse yourself in resources and learning. Here are a few commonly shared sentiments among some of the biggest personalities in the entrepreneurial space.
Tony Robbins: Failure Is Not Final
Tony Robbins talks about restarting a business after experiencing a failure. And even if you haven’t had a chance to fail yet, these words of wisdom can help redefine your expectations. Robbins reminds entrepreneurs that failure is imminent, with 50% of new entities failing in year one and 80% failing within five years. The difference between calling it quits altogether or revising your strategy to start again is your mindset. If your big idea is unshakable and nags at you constantly, you have to pull up your bootstraps and try again. Have faith in your big idea and passion in your mission. Expect some failures. But don’t make those failures be the final chapter in your entrepreneurial journey.
Tim Wells: Look Within Yourself
Tim Wells is another dominant voice in the successful leader realm, with his 20+ years in sales, operational, and management experience as a corporate leader. Wells reminds entrepreneurs that “success is not a straight line.” He also suggests that when it comes to those who succeed versus those who don’t, it’s the “hunger” and hustle that distinguishes. If you really want something to work, you have to “look within yourself” to find the secret sauce.
Sara Blakely: Solving a Problem
You can also learn invaluable lessons from Sara Blakely, founder of SPANX. She reminds entrepreneurs that the big idea that solves a unique problem will always win. In her business model, she challenged the undergarment problem plaguing women everywhere. Her big idea came to life and resonated quickly because it solved that unaddressed problem.
Lindsey Cook: Follow Your Inspiration
The founder and CEO of FitOn, Lindsay Cook, found her groove by following her inspiration. She began her journey as a working mom, too busy to make it to her favorite studio workout classes. And as a result, she started looking online for practical, more accessible workout options. When she realized there was a shortage, she was inspired to create something to fill the gap. She was inspired personally to commit and professionally to bring her big idea to life with FitOn.
2. Time to Get Your Hustle On
So, what is it about your big idea that’s so special? What makes it a “big idea” in the first place? Identify what your idea can do and build on that with every next business development step. You’ll lead with your best foot forward that way. And it’s hard to lose sight of your overarching objectives when you base every company decision on the magic of your big idea and the passion with which you share it.
Now it’s time to hustle. And by hustle, I mean get your ducks in a row, put your plan on paper, and do all of the above with a sense of urgency. That doesn’t mean rushing yourself into mistakes or oversights. It does mean taking every business consideration as seriously as a heart attack. Make decisions quickly and thoroughly. And stick to your checklist of to-do tasks every day to ensure you continue to move the ball down the court without missing a beat.
3. Do Your Market Research
There will be tips and business hacks later down the road. Right now, you have to do your homework, and there’s no cutting corners on market research. Spend time reviewing the industry as a whole, the players within it, and the current consumer experience. You need to size up the lay of the land. But you also need to identify where those monster competitors are falling short. Consumer reviews are great places to identify gaps in the customer experience, as well. It’s like you’re a racehorse on the track. You can’t get ahead of the racehorse pack if you don’t first find a hole to get to the front. Your market research now will help you find the way to break through with your big idea.
4. Find Advantages, Not Excuses
As you conduct your industry market research, you might start to feel discouraged. Your competitors might seem so far ahead of you. They have better resources. Their processes are mature. Their teams are experienced. And here you are, one lone person, trying to break into the space. How can you possibly compete with the big budgets and existing brand recognition?
So, stop that internal dialogue.
Now’s not the time for that line of thinking. Instead, explore to find what advantages you do have over them. Remember, smaller companies have better agility. You can make business decisions quicker because you don’t have a long line of corporate approvals to worry about securing. You can adopt better technology more efficiently as a smaller entity, too. Big ships steer slowly. Your rowboat can bob and weave into perfect market positioning.
5. Identifying Key Business Support Channels
You can’t go it alone. Sorry, you just can’t. No matter what your big idea entails in terms of product or service offering, there are just some nuances to business that lie beyond your area of expertise. Maybe you need legal advice or bookkeeping services. You’ll need to work with a web developer or payment processing vendor. And all of these partnerships, if not selected carefully, could set you back. So, start by making the list of third-party vendors you might need now. And develop a robust vetting strategy to help you choose the best fit contenders for your business partnerships.
6. Structuring Your Business Model
Right now, you might just be one person running a business. But the plan is to grow and eventually need more people, more partners, and more resources. When choosing your business structure, think about long-term objectives. You don’t want to set up a legal structure now and have to change it later. Whether you’re thinking LLC, C-Corp, or Sole Proprietor, get the legal advice you need to make the smartest decision. There are great online resources at the state level to help explain the basic advantages and disadvantages to each entity. But it’s the customized legal advice you’ll find worth spending the money on before officially incorporating.
7. Startup Funding, Cash Flow, and Capital
Then there’s the elephant in the room. How are you ever going to pay for this big idea to come to life in business form? Your legal and accounting partners can help you make educated decisions about funding. And the SBA has plenty of resources to explore, too.
- Crunch the numbers and decide what you think you’ll need to get started and operate each month.
- Assess your own resources for self-funding, including savings.
- Consider venture capital from various investors if it makes sense.
- Crowdfunding is another model for generating investments.
- You can talk with your bank about lending programs.
- SBA loans and grants may be available, based on your big idea business model.
If you’re uncomfortable with securing the funds you need to get started or think you need more in the reserves before launching, don’t be afraid to hit pause. You can always spend another few weeks at the old nine to five to get your finances in order. But be sure to set timeline goals for yourself that include adding to your savings and preparing to sustain your household during the first few months of your new business.
8. Branding & Target Marketing
As you compile your market research and make plans to introduce your big idea to the world, you need to identify who you are and who your targets are. This means defining your brand and developing personas that represent your meat-and-potatoes audience. You can’t say you’re “professional,” and your offering is great for “everyone.” If you do, you’ll get lost in the billions of brands out there. Think niche. Think precise.
Your target audience might technically be everyone, especially if your big idea has broad enough appeal. But think of the shampoo aisle at the store. Can you name three brands off the top of your head? Ten? But what if instead, you had to name only dandruff shampoos? That’s a much narrower playing field.
Since we’re in the bathroom with examples, think about mouthwash brands. Scope mouthwash branded and marketed itself as the “bad breath” solution, with commercials of married couples hating each other’s morning breath. It was a different approach to the rest of the mouthwash contenders out there, all promoting the same oral benefits and dental authority endorsements. Scope hit a homerun by targeting a specific niche and branding itself as the unique solution for those niche consumers.
To identify yours, be honest about what your big idea can do for different people. Create a list of pain points you’re uniquely positioned to solve. And then give your big idea an appropriate personality with a brand that you can promote consistently. Personas, or fictional characters you build that represent your top two or three consumers, can help you craft messaging and feelings that speak directly to your core audience.
9. Don’t Cut Corners on Marketing
One of the biggest mistakes brand-new entrepreneurs make when it comes to launching their big idea is trimming up the budgets on marketing. And yes, you need to be savvy and quick to identify cost-saving efforts. But some might argue the most important time to invest in your business marketing is during its launch phase. It doesn’t, however, mean spending all the budgets on all the marketing channels you have available. Whether you have $100, $1,000, or $10,000 to spend, you need to be intentional, smart, and strategic with your marketing investments.
Start by leveraging every free marketing resource you have at your disposal. Create just enough social media that you can manage effectively, too. Five social platforms won’t do you any good if you can’t keep up with them. Invest properly in logo design and web development. Those are one-time costs that you’ll get plenty of mileage out of in the long run.
Identify the channels or media outlets that reach your target audiences the most. Maybe it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube. Perhaps you’re launching an eCommerce enterprise, and an influencer makes the most sense. And it could make sense to do a vehicle wrap or pay for a billboard to reach your target market. Just remember to start small and only choose one or two channels to begin. Dump every effort into maximizing those few channels first to build momentum with your product and brand awareness. You can then expand into other channels, like email marketing, newsletters, or traditional media ad spend.
You’re inspired. And today might just be the day to bring your big idea to life and launch your business. Just be mindful of these critical first steps. You’re on your way to entrepreneurial greatness as long as you keep your passion, hustle, and motivation in line as you go.
Remember, too, when you’re ready to discuss your content strategy for your website, campaigns, or big idea blog, let Ghost Blog Writers be your guide!