Some think about it when they shave in the morning. Some as they drive to work or patiently wait for their stop while rocking silently on the train. Some as they wait for a never-ending meeting to finish.
Having your own business is a dream that keeps you going… if only you had a good idea!
And then, the idea comes!
Out of the blue or after months of “what ifs” and assumptions. Depending on your personality, you feel like a new energy is flooding your body after months of lethargy; or alternatively you find excuses to postpone any next steps that would turn that idea into something more concrete.
In both cases, you have a business idea but don’t know where to start.
You are not alone. I’ve coached 15 early startups in exactly the same situation.
Here are the 3 coaching tips I always give:
1. Business is about serving people: Be very clear on which people you are going to serve.
This clarity will help you to define your brand’s tone of voice, your design and graphic world, your pricing, your go-to-market strategy…
When I come to understand that a startup’s target group is ‘human beings who breathe’ – this happens often – I will always recommend more focus, along with the following framework:
- Define 2 or 3 target groups you could go after
- For each of these, define the issue your product will solve
- Test with first prototypes (of a product/service/website)
- Adjust and retest until you have 1 specific target group that your product can serve (i.e. solve 1 of their issues)
- Keep in mind the target group and benefit in everything you do (website, packaging, PR text, etc.)
2. Make sure your product is unique – and your target group is ready to PAY for it
- The uniqueness aspect can include an innovative or superior product, a competitive price, or an innovative go-to-market model. It will reduce the risk of your competitors piggybacking on your offer. It will also help you to write the story of your product and brand, which will increase your credibility in the market place.
- A target group ready to pay is a guarantee that your idea has the potential to turn into a business. Unfortunately, giving free products to your friends and family won’t be representative of your chances of success in the market place.
3. Starting your business is different from anything else you’ve ever done – stay humble:
- Start small, and focus. Many startups come to me with a proposition including multiple lines of products, planning a multi-channel distribution and a multi-social platform approach. An unfocused approach spreads resources (time, money) in a moment where you should be focused on increasing the conversion rate with your specific target group.
- Learn first, then expand. You can plan tests of course, but start with one preferred social network and one preferred distribution channel.
- Get coaching in the areas in which you aren’t an expert. This will reduce the amount of mistakes you make and maximise your chances of success. You can find mentors at networking events or on expert platforms such as Clarity (e.g. Serena’s profile and Anna’s profile).
Note that these 3 tips are ‘top line’ only, and designed to get you started.
Based on the above, the next step should be a business plan including your target group definition, the issue you are solving, your product or service description and pricing, your distribution channel, and how you are planning to reach the target group. Once you’ve done this, you can start testing.
A ‘watch-out’ for those who are currently working in a large corporation, as I am:
Counterintuitively, we are among the ones most at risk of making mistakes. Read about mine in My 5 Mistakes As An Entrepreneur Coming From Corporate.
Good luck in transforming your ideas into business! Despite the difficult bits, the learning curve is steep and exhilarating, you will meet amazing and passionate people… and I think it’s definitively worth it!
[Featured image by Serge Saint]