In this modern world, the word ‘entrepreneur’ has become one of those words everybody knows, but do many really know what it means? We often hear success stories all over the news of start-ups which have exploded in growth and become hugely successful, but we rarely hear about the many business ideas which don’t even manage to get off the ground. This discussion also sometimes ignores the middle ground in all this, the many number of businesses which have a steady growth and modest profitability. Not every idea is going to be an overnight success but that doesn’t mean your idea will fail. Through good planning and determination, you can start up and grow your business, and even if that doesn’t mean overnight success, that can still mean landing in the profitable and steady middle ground.
This article will go through the 7 main steps to transform your idea into a thriving business, from the very beginning all the way through to growth.
Step 1: – Coming up with your idea
Arguably the most difficult step is the first one: coming up with your business idea. A lot of people tend to overthink this step and spend all their time perfecting what they believe to be the golden ticket to success. In reality, most ideas can be built into a thriving business as long as you put the work in. When coming up with a new idea it’s important to think about where your idea can be applied to, whether that be aiming towards your local market or filling a niche on an international stage.
Sometimes when you are coming up with an idea it can be a good idea to utilise the skills you have and then transform them into a business. This could suit someone who is into arts and crafts as they could offer those services to either their local community or towards a more global audience. This can also apply to someone who has a particular service that they can offer and market that to a larger audience.
Step 2: – Getting Organised!
Organisation and planning is a key part to any setting up of a business. It’s always important to remember that failing to plan is planning to fail in the business world. As we mentioned in our previous article, a Business Plan is an essential part to any business wanting to officially register, but even for smaller start-ups, getting your ideas onto paper is a valuable task to do when you are starting.
Away from more formal planning, the smaller things like just jotting down your ideas or plans for the day are essential parts of building a more organised routine for yourself. Other aspects like diary keeping, post-it notes, and visualising your tasks with images or drawings to help you retain the information for longer.
If your idea involves the creation and sale of a physical product, then the planning of your budget, costs and logistics will be crucial in understanding how you will grow the business in the early days and have a solid understanding about the finances in which you will grow the business with.
If you are artistically inclined, it could be worth getting some rough designs of possible logos and branding for your business in the future. If this is a task you are looking to outsource when you start actually building your website, it would still be worth getting some rough ideas of what kind of look and style you will want to go with for your branding.
Step 3: – Research your Market
Market Research is one of the areas of starting up a business which is overlooked in a lot of mainstream discussions on the topic when the benefits of this are huge. The approach towards market research is from two main directions.
Firstly, one of the goals of market research is to understand how the market in which you are going to operate works, the size of it, and the key selling points of your possible competitors in this market. This would include taking notes on the main key competitors in the market on their products, marketing, growth strategies. This information will help give you a better understanding of what it takes to be profitable in this market.
The second main goal of market research is to actually investigate how well your product or service will actually do within the market by getting feedback and suggestions on your products or marketing material. This can entail creating questionnaires or interviews to get an idea about what potential customers think of your offerings. It can be difficult when starting up to be able to find possible customers to do the market research on; in situations like this it could be worth offering some form of incentive in completing it, like 10% off your order as a thank you.
The aim of all this market research is to discover your brand’s identity, what about your company and the products or services you offer are unique to the market you will be operating in, and what the main draw of your business is.
Depending on the size of your business and your available budget, how you go about completing your market research will vary. For a larger organisation with a healthy budget, they can hire professional researchers to perform these tasks for you. It is also an option to take advantage of these multitude of survey sites like ClickWorker or PeopleForResearch. These sites will run market research campaigns for you to their members by offering them small financial rewards for completing your questionnaires. Whilst the upfront business cost might be a barrier to smaller companies, the insights gained from doing market research cannot be understated.
Step 4: – Develop your Product/Service
Now you have your idea planned, and a firm understanding of the market your product or service will operate in, it’s time to start developing them. The specifics to this will depend heavily on the specific product or service you are offering. If it is a physical product you are going to be selling this is the step in where you organise with possible suppliers or distributors to get the product line ready for sale when you launch so you can get off the ground running. In the example of a startup focusing on arts & crafts, this step would focus on making examples of the crafts in which you make use for marketing and so you can build your business around it.
In the situation of your specific offerings being a service, this section is where you will collect all the resources you need to offer this service. For example, a person who wishes to start their own valeting service would use this step to collect all the tools and cleaning chemicals you are going to need as you get all the groundwork done for your business before you start.
If your business plans to sell digital products like software or music or art, you would use this opportunity to get the products which you aim to sell created and ready to start.
Step 5: – Start-up your business
With everything before you set up it’s now start to go through the process of starting up your business. Firstly you must decide what business structure is best for you, a sole trader or to register as a PLC, for a full breakdown on the differences and benefits of each one check out our previous article. In a nutshell, this decision will depend on the size of your organisation and how you want to grow in the short term.
Another main part of the startup is making sure you are in a position for adequate record keeping. This involves making sure you have a way to produce invoices, receipts and tax returns. Whilst the individual tax rules are dependent on the individual situation, all businesses at some point will need to start paying their tax. In these situations you really have three main options, the first is to hire an accountant or similar to handle all these sides of the paperwork for you. This will allow you to spend more time focusing on other aspects of the business with the peace of mind that the tax and paperwork side of the business is getting taken care of.
The second way to deal with this situation is to take advantage of some of these new bookkeeping software available online. Whilst this still requires you to input and deal with this part of the business, the software acts as an aid in guiding you through what you need to do and keeping all the records in a central place. However, these services all do have a cost associated with them so for a business without much of a budget this option could be out of the question for the time being. The final option is to organise all this out yourself, this would suit someone with prior experience in managing the invoicing or the tax forms, but also would suit an entrepreneur who has the passion to learn more about that aspect of running a business.
Step 6: – Marketing yourself
Probably one of the most crucial aspects in growing your business is the marketing you do for it. The area of marketing is an ever evolving industry with a multitude of new methods in getting your business and brand into the minds of the masses.
One of the biggest growing areas for marketing has been through social media in recent years. This is why when starting your marketing it would be a good idea to create a business social media account on all the main websites. These pages should be the vehicle in which you deliver your promotions and advertisements. Make sure to keep your posts on social media regular so your name and style is becoming a regular name for customers to see. This will help develop your brand identity, which is a key part of any thriving business. Remember to try to keep your social media post following a house style.
Another crucial area of marketing these days is through the use of a website. An online digital presence has never been more crucial when everyone has an internet connected device on them at all times. Having your own website lets you curate the user experience to reinforce that brand identity discussed earlier. Through the use of a website you can increase your visibility through search engines, especially if your product or service is aimed at a localised market. There is also the added benefit of having a well made website can make your business look more professional and trustworthy.
A smaller area of marketing which can leave a lasting impression on someone is through the use of business cards. Whilst in recent years we have seen a reduction in the popularity and use of business cards, with the growth of the use of the QR code the comeback could be upon us. Picture how easy it would be to show off your business to potential new customers by handing them a sleek card in which they only need to point their phone at to be able visit your website or social media. You could pair this idea with an incentive e.g: where anyone visiting your business through the QR code could be eligible for a discount.
Step 7: – Sustaining Growth
Initial growth can be easily achieved through sheer hard work and dedication, and the momentum which that gives you in the beginning. The hard part is sustaining this growth long term.
When it comes to sustaining the growth of your business into the long term many factors will need to be taken into account. There is no one quick solution to guarantee long term growth but more a collection of smaller reasons which all contribute to the growth into a thriving business.
On a smaller scale, maintaining and improving your customer service offerings will greatly improve the reputation of your business. Nothing souers a possible customer quicker than a story of a bad experience going through customer services. This is because the key to future business is building the relationships with your existing customers so they return and recommend you to friends and family. Even in 2021 the power of word of mouth marketing can’t be understated.
Moreover, another method of sustaining your company’s growth in the long term is by embracing new technology. The more advances we make in the world of tech the quicker these advancements appear. In this world it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of any technological innovations which could benefit your business, whether that is the running of the business, the marketing, or in the production of the possible products themselves. The benefits of this new technology could be in reducing the costs of a particular task or by speeding up the production speed which helps the business be more profitable.
This leads to probably the biggest factor in making sure your business continues to grow in the long term is the confidence to take risks in your business. Like in the example above, investing in a new technology can be a big risk to a new business as making sure you get a return on the costs spent on the technology will be a high priority. To prevent this becoming an issue, planning of your finances and forecasts of your potential return on investment will put you in a better position to analyse the situation and work out the risk and whether it is worth it in your individual case.
Whilst this was a whistle stop tour through the main 7 steps in transforming your idea, hopefully there were some memorable tips which can be applied to your idea. The growth of entrepreneurs is a positive for our society as it gets the ideas, creations and passions from a larger diverse group.
Hopefully now you can see the steps to grow that idea in the back of your head, with careful planning, attention to detail and passion in your own projects, you can transform that idea into a thriving business and a potential future for yourself.
Nathaniel is a Web Design Executive who also writes content on technology and loves spending his days researching and building new projects, and generally complaining about new trends.