Got a great idea but not sure whether it would translate into a sustainable business?
Most people have thought of a `great idea’ at some point in their life but are unable to execute it. They either lose confidence, lack conviction or don’t have the courage to invest in it.
Half the battle is getting your idea to the point where you step over the invisible barriers we create for ourselves, step out of our comfort zones and invest the money needed to transform the idea into a fully fledged business. This may also be countered by the reality that 8 out of 10 businesses fail.
Starting out in business isn’t easy, it requires a lot of courage and a ton of hard work. Your mindset is extremely important; to ultimately succeed at what you set out to do you need to have confidence in your ability and a belief in what you are truly capable of. You need to be willing to challenge yourself in new and different ways and be prepared to open yourself up to new experiences. You need dogged determination, tenacity and resilience, you need to be able to forge ahead even in times of doubt.
Building strong foundations to further grow your business is essential to set yourself up for greater chance of success. Investing the time at the very beginning to analyse your idea, your market, your competition, and truly understanding the commitment required before investing all your savings, extending the mortgage or taking a loan out will ensure you don’t enter into it blindly.
The following are six strategies to help you build a strong foundation for your business:
1. Create a Business Plan.
Erghh, I hear you say. It does require time and effort but if you take the time and make the effort it’ll provide you with a great grounding for your business. Research the market you are looking to enter; investigate competitor activity, strengths, weaknesses, the opportunities available, potential threats that exist, market influences, and what’s happening on the global stage. Consider what your exit plan looks like. Writing a concise business plan reinforces the validity of your idea, it also provides an enormous amount of knowledge and confidence to give you the courage to forge ahead.
2. Seek Advice.
Present your business idea to other entrepreneurs or business owners, I spoke to a handful of people who had started up their own business and knew what it took. By testing your model through discussions with them it will ensure you’ve thought of all aspects of the business, use any feedback or constructive criticism they give you wisely to fine tune your idea further. I recommend having any 3rd parties you disclose confidential information to in these early stages, to sign a Confidentiality Agreement if your idea is original. Go online to source templates.
3. Identify Your Weaknesses.
Don’t be afraid to acknowledge a weakness, everyone has them. Identify them, put a plan in place to fill any voids, get necessary training or leverage resources.
4. Test the Market.
An important and often overlooked step that provides a greater chance for a new business to succeed is testing the concept in the market, before you launch and before you even invest money in it talk to those who are pivotal to its success, the end user. Chose a few people in your target market and sell them your vision, if they buy into it you’ve got the confidence that a market does exist, success then relies on how well you execute your idea.
5. Create Partnerships.
You can build a business alone but it’s a much harder, lonelier and longer route to take. Creating a strong network around you of people on similar journeys allows you to leverage those relationships to create far greater momentum. Play to your strengths and partner with people whose expertise brings additional value to your business. Network, network, network…put your game face on, get out there and meet others, build relationships with like-minded people and collaborate! Creating a business and aligning it with other like-minded people makes it all the more enjoyable; someone to share your journey with, to strategize with, someone who understands what drives you and why.
6. Surround yourself with a Support Network.
By surrounding yourself with people who are supportive, who believe in you, people who are there to build you up not pull you down, who believe in what you are doing will empower you further. Getting buy-in from your family and partner is crucial, you will need their understanding and their support.
Along the way I had what I referred to as my `WTF’ moments, my reality checks. But instead of doubting what I was capable of, the chance to reflect gave me the courage I needed to continue down the path I’d started on. These periods became my moments of clarity, stepping back from the business to think, review and analyze what I was creating and ensuring there wasn’t a better way of doing it.
By working through each of these steps I was able to take the most crucial step, the one that often stops us, I had confidence in my idea, confidence in my ability to implement and execute…it gave me the courage to invest in my business – I stepped over the invisible hurdle that we often create for ourselves.
Building a business is not a result of good luck, it is through hard work and commitment and with an immense amount of passion and dedication you start to see the gains. As the momentum builds and you keep yourself open to opportunities around you, great things start to happen. It is about having having patience and confidence, being courageous.
Susan Stevens is the founder of New Zealand-based Meme & Co, a jewelry and accessories company with an innovative, woman-centered business model. She has over 18 years experience in sales, marketing and advertising, she climbed the corporate ladder and was committed to her career but her priorities changed when she had her children. Life became a struggle, trying to find a balance between wanting to retain her worth and independence in the workforce without compromising her ability to be a present and attentive mother.
Then, Susan made a terrifying leap – leaving a six figure income to no job and a big mortgage. With a very strong resolve never to go back to the corporate world, and through commitment, perseverance and a passion to succeed, she found as one door closed other doors opened. It was this journey that gave her the motivation and the drive to create an opportunity for other women who want to be in control, who value their independence, who want to be empowered. Her drive to keep a balance between work and family life ultimately resulted in `taking a leap’ into the unknown and embarking on a personal journey of self reflection, new challenges and growth.