Planning and executing your startup idea may sound easy. But it’s quite difficult. This is not just because of competition. Starting a business is hard because many ideas fail soon after they originate.
This is due to several factors, including marketing the idea effectively but not tapping a potential market. Some ideas don’t fully develop and fall by the wayside before they reach success.
1. Use a Mind Map to Organize Your Ideas
Mind mapping is a great technique to brainstorm your ideas and organize them. Think of it as visualizing your thoughts in the form of a tree. The main idea is the trunk and the connecting thoughts are the branches.
Two methods of mind mapping can help you get the full picture of your idea. The first option is to use mind mapping software like Mindmeister and XMind. These have a straightforward drag-and-drop feature, which simplifies the planning process.
The other way is to use post-it notes. Brainstorming through these notes is old-school but highly effective. You can write every thought you have on a separate post-it note, and organize them on a whiteboard. You can even use your wall or your window.
2. Clarify Your Ideas and Simplify Your Approach
Once you’ve organized your various thoughts about the project, you should get to the core of the business idea. The goal here is to get clearer on the business idea so you can describe it in one sentence. This may sound crazy to you, but it’s how the best businesses can be defined. This is not a slogan. This is what you can use to define what your idea is to investors.
The sentence should include the name of the company, the product or service, the defined niche, and the problem that it solves. You can even add an extra element to this such as a “secret ingredient” if you wish.
This process can be a struggle. Try shortening your idea to a paragraph first and then work from there. Little by little, you’ll get clearer on the essentials of what your startup idea is.
3. Take Feedback to Refine Your Idea
Talk to as many trusted people as you can about your idea. If you want, you can even approach a stranger to do so. This may sound counter-intuitive, but they’ll help you identify any flaws.
This is a great strategy to get instant and meaningful feedback. Execution matters because ideas are worthless without an action plan.
Take praise with a pinch of salt, and criticism with the utmost seriousness. This will help you tackle the flaws of your idea to the best of your abilities.
4. Define a Niche Market and Survey It
Running a business for the first time can fool you into thinking that the general market is your target. But there is a niche for every business. You can’t possibly market to the entire world. Then there are further divisions like the region in question and the age of the potential customer.
The best way to go about finding out who this product is geared towards is to perform a survey. You can organize a small survey that asks your target market about certain problems you can solve.
You can ask them about the current solutions they are employing and what their gripes are. This will help you gain insights into the weaknesses and strengths of your product.
5. Analyze Your Competition
Make sure that you survey the competition so you know who you’re pitted against directly and indirectly. The former are competitors within your exact industry, while the latter offer similar products that customers use as substitutes.
Even if you think your idea is unique, you’ll need to analyze your competition. It’s naïve to think that no one else has a solution to your identified problem.
For example, a coffee brand competes with other brands, but also with energy drinks. Soaps can compete with other soap brands, but they also compete with body wash makers.
6. Test a Prototype with a Focus Group
This is the practical application phase. After you’ve gathered all your information, you have to make the product or service and test it. Using blind test subjects to grade your service will give you the best kind of response.
You can give out free samples of food or get people to try out free services for an experiment. Either way, the response you get will help you identify the best and the worst.
7. Define a Revenue Model
Defining a revenue model is hard for two reasons. The first is that many entrepreneurs end up setting unrealistic goals due to insufficient knowledge of the market. The second is that they adopt existing models without much innovation, leading to the same failures that other companies have.
Some common business models include selling your product or service through subscriptions or pay-as-you-go models, affiliate marketing, and brokering.
You can even sell through ad revenue by utilizing blogging platforms or apps. You can also use a freemium model that employs giving out a part of your product for free while retaining a price tag on the full version.
8. Create a Marketing Strategy
After the validation of your idea, it’s time to market the product or service. You need to ask how the product will be developed, what milestones you hope to achieve, and how much it will cost.
You will also need to find out who will be involved and who will be responsible for what sector. You can even use professional business plan writing services to help create a plan for your startup.
Acquiring customers, structuring your team, and funding the various levels of the process are extremely important. All of these issues need to be addressed. You will need to chalk out the particulars before you proceed further.
Using this template as a guide to move forward with your startup plan will yield great results. Using a technical and objective approach will yield a much greater result than employing a subjective one. Good luck!