In any business, there must be an idea that starts the journey. The strongest ideas usually birth the most viable businesses. You can begin by writing down all your ideas and then focus on the strongest one; the one you are more excited about and can see the clearest. Write every single thing about the idea that occurs to you.
Once you’ve done some brainstorming, it’s time to attack the idea. You should also assess and ask questions about your idea, to yourself and to people who you consider helpful:
- What do you think about this idea?
- Do you think this idea is realistic?
- What do you think I should add to the idea or take out of the idea?
- Will you buy this product/service?
- If you will buy this product/service, how much will you pay for it?
- If you won’t buy this product/service, why?
Getting honest feedback from yourself and others. is essential to making your idea as strong as possible.
Then, spend some time researching what is already happening within the field of your idea. The business world is always evolving. You will have to keep reading up on trends, innovations, and new thinking about your brilliant idea.
There will very likely be businesses already in existence doing the same thing. Ask yourself:
- Who are your competitors?
- What will you offer that will make you stand out from your competitors?
- Is there a similar successful business you can model after?
Furthermore, try and identify potential partners during this process. During this market research, you may learn things that will cause you to reshape or reconsider your original idea.
Tips for when you have an idea
- It is very important to write your idea down. Define what your product or services will be. Be very detailed. It may sound unreasonable or unattainable at that moment but writing it down and reading through it will give you more clarity and confidence.
- Every product or service has a market. Define your market, the specifics of your target (age, gender, income etc.) and the best way(s) to approach both. This makes your idea more real, more doable.
- Your idea may already have other competitors. Define your competitors. What are they doing? How will you do yours differently? What will make your idea stand out?
Africa is currently an evolving market. Nigeria, the largest economy on the continent, is always open for a well-thought-out idea that is underpinned with a value-creating business plan. Here is a template and here is video on how to write a business plan. For an entrepreneur, the uses of a business plan are twofold. It serves as a guide to your business and helps you stay on track. It is also an important document to have when you are seeking investors.
Now that you have your business plan in place, the next thing to do is to set up your business.
From the business plan, you should have already determined your product/services.
There are a few sources of financing to begin a business that the entrepreneur needs to exploit. Common amongst such include, personal savings, contributions from family and friends, commercial bank loans, government grants and loans, and trade credit. The kind of financing you go for will largely depend on the nature of your start-up. While some businesses can be started with a little bit of savings and a lot of hard work, a number of other enterprises can be very capital intensive.
Doing too much too fast can also be a big risk and you will have to determine the bare bones of what you need to get off the ground. For example, beginning a good business in a wrong location can stifle its growth and success. But the COVID-19 pandemic made it obvious that a lot of businesses can exist without the conventional office space and most business owners have since improvised means of working from home and online, drastically reducing their overhead.
Now that everything is in place, it is time to begin the adventure. Starting a business is very exciting. It is very important for the entrepreneur to follow the business plan but adjust when it is necessary. Being adaptive is key. Do not be in a hurry to start spending money from the business. Spend as little as possible when you start your business and only spend on things that are essential for the business to grow and be a success.
The entrepreneur needs to pay attention to the business. He/she needs to make sure that records are properly kept.
At this stage, research and development are critical to the continuous existence of the business. New businesses spring up every day thereby creating competition.
The importance of break-even analysis also comes into play. Here is a template and explainer video on how to do this. The planning stage of the business would have seen the entrepreneur calculate his/her break-even point, projected their cash flow, and other forecasts. Here are templates and videos to help you do this.
Also, other unforeseen costs will begin to manifest at this point and the business owner have to device new means of meeting the cost at this stage and knowing what cost to avoid without reducing the quality of their product or service.
This stage also records the daily activity of the business thereby forming a pattern for the business. It is advised that you use this time to start mapping out your standards of operation so that growth and changes can be handled with ease.
This is the progress point of a business. The ideal thing for any idea is the point when the business finances and assets begin to experience a positive progression. There are key things that need to be introduced at this point to ensure that our business remains relevant in the eyes of our customers/client. Some of these elements are enumerated below
- Branding and rebranding: customers and clients alike always want to see something new in our business. We must ensure that our product/services are always rebranding to remain relevant to our target market. A business brand is basically what its products are known for.
- Sales promotion: sales promos have shown to be one of the tools that keeps a business growing. Customers wants to see that a business has them at heart. It is therefore advisable for business owners to run offer attractive promotions from time to time to reward loyalty.
- Advertisement: There are a lot of avenues for advertisement these days. These include word-of-mouth marketing, referrals, print, electronic, and social media. A growing business will be seen to be adopting some or all of these mediums as a tool of growth.
Every business must evolve to meet present realities. This means that the entrepreneur should continue to think outside the box on how to remain relevant in the ever-changing market to meet evolving consumer demands.
Many businesses have lost relevance because of their inability to evolve. Suffice it to say the core of every business should include the ability to adapt to change. Technology has made various aspects of running a business easy. Entrepreneurs can and should capitalise on technology to grow.
Tips for evolving
- Getting feedback from your customers is a good way of ensuring that your business is staying on track even as it grows.
- Promotions are a good way to keep current customers and attract new ones. You can do this by reducing price(s) for your products/services, by giving out gifts to your loyal customers, or by offering a free delivery for your product.
Diversification is an integral part of a business evolving. Create more products/services for an unexplored market. For example, if you sell building materials, you can include painting your customers homes and offices as an additional service.