Entrepreneurship, SME businesses

STARTING A BUSINESS:Turn your Ideas and Passion to Profit

During the past few months, I have had to attend to several questions in my DM and some of the questions are from people with very awesome ideas. Unfortunately, some of us are not fully knowledgeable as to how to convert those great ideas into profitable business ventures and hence those ideas just die.

Like I always tell people, there is not definitive recipe to starting a successful business. However, there are processes that will help you to evaluate the reasonableness of your business idea or passion, and how to convert such ideas into a functional business venture.

If the above sounds like you, then this topic is made for you. Now, let’s go deeper ?

Determine the “product” and the “customer.”
For me, the first step is the determination of the “product” and the “customer”. It is very key for you to be able to articulate what the product (or service) is, and the possible customers that will be interested in it. What is the new value addition that you are offering? What problem is the product solving? Although the idea may solve a problem for you, does it solve a similar problem for others?

Once you have a convincing argument as to why the business idea is needed, then the next critical assessment is the expected target audience. We know that a business is not yet a business until you have cash-paying customers. What type of people will need the product or service? Male or female? Income levels? Geographical locations (Lagos or Arochukwu?) Age range (18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-55 or 56+?). What’s the targeted demography? What are their interests and how will you reach them?

Leverage on Existing Products or Solutions to create your own product or service.
I have been to several business pitching sessions and being involved in several discussions with start-up entrepreneurs. In several of such instances, I am usually shocked at the illusion of the entrepreneurs as some of them think their idea is the greatest thing that happened since the beginning of human existence (pun intended!). Please note that there will always be businesses out in the world that are similar to yours and that you are not a “god of all things” so your product cannot be the solution for everyone!

For me, the fact that some existing businesses are doing something similar sort of gives a comfort that there’s a market for what you do. The only thing is that you need to identify your unique selling point (USP) – what you will do differently or better than they do. You can only achieve this by doing research on the existing companies and their products. What’s their pricing? Who are their customers? How do they market to them? What’s their social media strategy? What are their weaknesses? What are the customer complaints about them? How can you deliver a better product or service?

If possible, engage your potential customers to see if they will be interested in your product and to know what products they are using currently. This will help you to proof that your idea is truly required. In one of my start-ups, we even deployed a survey that helped to get a better understanding of the target audience. In fact, the negative feedbacks from that survey helped us to refine the business idea.

Summarize the Concept and Business Model
If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail. So, if you take the time to plan out your new business idea, you are on your way towards a potentially successful business venture.

So, what’s the final product or service that you are coming up with? Who are the customers? How will you sell? How will you make money? How will you be marketing your business? What is the name of the business? Is the name available for registration and on social media?

Lastly, what will it cost to start the business? How will you raise the funds? This last step is one of the most important in order to take your business from out of your head and into the real world. Remember you can always start small, while thinking big!

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