As female entrepreneurs, one of the questions we get asked a lot is “how did you start your business?” It seems like wherever we go, whoever we talk to, good ideas abound. But a lot of people, and especially the women we meet, are unsure of how to take a great idea and turn it into a real-life, profitable business. So for those of you who are considering starting your own business and turning your idea into reality, here are a few steps to get you started:
Do Your Research.
Before you dive head first into a business (especially with your money and time), it’s beneficial to do some research to figure out if there is a market for your idea and if so, the best way to implement it.
The first step of your research – figuring out IF there is a market – should focus on understanding the total market size (how many potential customers exist in the world), the total market spend (how much those potential customers are spending on other products/services similar to yours) and whether the market is growing or shrinking (you don’t want to be on the downward end of a trend!).
The second step is to check out your competitors – what price do they charge, what features do they offer? What do you like and not like about their offerings?
Next, it’s important to understand the costs for your product/service. How much will it cost for each unit you put out? What can you charge for that unit? What other costs do you need to consider (shipping, packaging, customer acquisition/marketing, etc.). How much profit will you make on each unit?
Once you’ve established there is a market for your idea and that you can make money in that market, your research should shift to figuring out what you need to do to execute on that idea. What are the costs associated with starting up your business, and how long will each step take? Putting together a concrete checklist outlining your legal, financial, marketing and production/operational to-dos will ensure that you fully understand what you are getting yourself in to.
Talk to Your Customers.
Before you launch your product or service, you need to hit the pavement and talk to your customers. To do this, you need to understand your target market.
Are your customers most likely to be moms in their 30s? Men in their 50s? People who live in the Midwest? Building a target customer profile will help you better understand what your customers want. And then you need to test it.
Start talking to your target customers and see what they think of your idea. Does it solve a pain point for them? Is it something they would spend money on? Based on this feedback, you can refine your target market, your product/service and/or your marketing pitch. But keep in mind – you will get a lot of advice from people who may not necessarily be your target customer, or may represent only one opinion from this group.
Don’t assume that every suggestion you get must be acted on. Take all the advice you receive in the aggregate and pay attention to the advice you keep hearing over and over again.
It’s rare these days that you’ll come up with a completely fresh and groundbreaking idea, so unless you have, it’s best to focus on how you can differentiate your product or service so that it stands out in what may be an already crowded market.
Being first to market is nice but not required for a successful business. What’s more important is that you understand what is important to your customers that your competitors are ignoring. It could be price, a new feature or a different marketing angle. Figure out what makes you and your product/service different, and make sure that’s something your customers care about (and will pay for!).
These tips for how to turn an idea into a reality will get you started. We’d love to hear from you about how you started your business, or what business you’d love to start! Introduce yourself and leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you ASAP!