Do you have an idea you consider unique and innovative? Something the world doesn’t even know it’s waiting for? Are you full of ideas that are screaming to get developed? Too many people can answer, “yes” to these questions. Unfortunately, many ideas never get out of the vision stage. It is one thing to have great ideas and enthusiasm; pursuing and being successful with those ideas is something altogether different.
The process of going from an idea to a business is intimidating. Where does one even begin? Fortunately, many great entrepreneurs have traveled the path to success before you. Their journey can serve as a roadmap for you to follow, provided that you understand that there are no shortcuts and the path is paved with pitfalls, failures and setbacks.
“Most businesses start with what they think is a great idea, but in almost every case, the ideas change over time.” – CEO and founder, Marketing Zen
Before taking a big step in the direction of your big idea, the first necessary step is to define the business. It is virtually impossible to sell customers on a vision that you yourself don’t fully understand. A successful business needs to build trusting relationships with its clientele. That won’t happen unless there is a clear, definable, and consistent vision. The decisions you make for the groundwork of your business and the choices you make for its image will all stem from your vision.
“Creating teams that have an understanding of not only what they are doing but, most important, why they are doing it, is critical.” – Jim Murren, Chariman and CEO, MGM Resorts International
You can start defining your business by asking yourself a variety of questions. If you don’t know the answer to one of more, you probably aren’t quite ready and should continue to evaluate your plan of action (POA). The greatest possibility of success comes with meticulous planning and a solid footwork. You cannot begin before you are fully prepared for what is waiting before you. History is full of businesses that launched themselves too soon and ended up imploding before they even got off the ground.
If you think you have what it takes to succeed in the business of ideas, move forward with these questions:
- What does my company do? What goods or services does your company provide? What do you have to offer the industry and what problems does it solve? What do you bring to the table?
- What differentiates me from the competition? How will your goods and services differ from those already in the market? What is going to make you stand out and why will people want what you have over the competition?
- What is the value of my company? Not financially, but how are you going to impact the industry? How much and how often will people want your product or service? Is it so valuable that your failure will have a great impact on them?
- What are the core values/beliefs of my company? What is the foundation on which you will build your company? How does your belief system influence the company?
- What is the vision for my company? Why do you want this business or product to exist? What do you hope to accomplish? Where do you see the business five or ten years down the line and what are the steps you plan to take in order to get there?
- What are the ultimate goals of my company? Specificity is the key to understanding exactly where you hope to travel. What are your financial goals? What are your personal goals?
The answers to these questions and others like them will help you define your business. Every decision you make must be made on this definition. Your business name, logo, image, identity, message… your entire brand needs to be consistent with your business definition. If it isn't, you will appear inconsistent and unstable – perceptions that can kill your business before it even starts.