In our research, we sometimes come across articles that are incredibly useful while simply stated. This one – written by David Ronick- is exactly what a want-to-be entrepreneur needs. A simple step-by-step plan to take a business from an idea to a working operation.
Even successful startups would find Ronick’s information helpful and valuable. Were any key steps missed that might cause problems later? What lessons would I pass along to others interested in similar activities? Which of the steps went well and what needs additional focus for the next phase? Excellent advice and lessons from one who has been there and done it very successfully.
10 Steps From Idea To Business
By David Ronick
Some of the most important things in life don’t come with instruction manuals: homes, spouses, kids and startups are a few. That’s why I created this startup road map. Inspired by the lean approach often favored by today’s tech entrepreneurs, the principles apply to any industry.
1. Come up with an idea
Pick an idea that fits your passions, goals, strengths, resources and tolerance for risk. But keep in mind that your initial idea is just a hypothesis. Don’t fall in love with it just yet.
2. Think through all angles
Evaluate the opportunity like an investor would—in an objective, thorough, analytical way. Who are the customers and what do they need? How big is the opportunity? Is the timing right? What will it take to execute? Is the payoff worth the risk? What’s the business model? A rough business plan is a great way to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. Here’s a free tool you can use to make sure yours is comprehensive.
3. Get feedback
Find people who know the market, the business model, the competitors and predecessors—people who have been there, done that, and can help you understand what works and what doesn’t in the real world. Also, talk to customers—people in your core target market—and find out what they think about your hypothesis. You’ll learn lots more once you get a product to market, but this initial research will increase your chances of starting out on the right path.
4. Respond to feedback
Make any necessary changes to your business plan, product, and go-to-market strategy. Run some numbers to get a sense of how much capital you’ll need to reach key milestones. Develop an implementation plan with your most important goals over the next few months, and determine whom you need on your team to execute that plan.
5. Build a basic product
When you envision the product or service you ultimately want to offer, it probably has a slick design and a full set of features. Keep that ultimate vision on the back-burner for now. Instead, strip the concept down to the bare minimum offering to address the needs of your core customers. Build that basic product as quickly and inexpensively as you can.
6. Open shop
It’s tempting to wait until your product is “perfect” to start selling it. Instead, realize “perfect is the enemy of good enough.” Until your product is out in the market, you’re flying blind, spending time and money with a limited ability to learn how customers react. Make a core product and get it to market quickly.
7. Test what you’ve created
With products in market, you can figure out how to match your offerings with customer needs. To do that, test elements like pricing, branding, features and customer experiences. Next, find a cost-effective, repeatable way to attract customers by experimenting with marketing messages, promotions, sales pitches and distribution channels. Measure the results and draw conclusions.
8. Make adjustments
Once you learn which aspects of your product and marketing you got wrong, you’ll want to fix them, of course. But hopefully you will have gotten some things right, too, and you’ll want to leave those intact. To do both simultaneously, you’ll tweak or “pivot” your approach.
9. Get ready to grow
Revisit your business plan, and update your product, team, marketing, implementation and finance strategies. Gather resources you’ll need to expand. If you intend to raise capital, this is a good time. Your pitch to investors now sounds something like, “We figured out how to get new customers for $x, and make 3$x from each one. With such and such amount of money, we can grow this big, this fast.” That’s a winning pitch.
10. Stomp on the startup accelerator
With a market-tested plan and resources in place, it’s time to expand. Make sure your team knows and believes in where you’re heading. Check that everyone understands what’s expected and that they have what they need to get it done.
David Ronick is a co-founder of UpStart Bootcamp, which aims to help founders start up smarter.
Read this article at: Inc.com.