Step 1: Search For Your Idea Online and Get Input From Others
In short, you need to be willing to share your idea with those whose opinions you respect and, more importantly than that, take any input they provide onboard, rather than forging on even if the general consensus is that it is a non-starter.
Step 2: Produce A Prototype
If your business idea involves a tangible product, it may be hard to convince anyone that it has valuable without being able to let them experience it first-hand.
Of course in the digital era, the world’s most influential and successful businesses have largely been based around software and related services which may not benefit from prototyping in this way. Indeed such tech titans as Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos whose revolutionary ideas and approaches are now being spread in the “best business books” collections used prototyping as their dominant strategy.
Regardless, if it is obvious that prototyping makes sense in the context of your concept, it will be very valuable. And with the dawn of affordable 3D printing, it is now cheaper and easier than ever to create a proof of concept that will let you assess whether or not your idea is workable in practice as well as desirable from a consumer perspective.
Step 3: Build A Brand
The best idea in the world can fail to flourish if it is not supported by suitable brand identity. In some cases, up to half of a firm’s value can be tied into its brand.
According to Foundr, because of this, the sooner you start thinking about how to develop a brand for your fledgling business, the better chance it has of succeeding in the long term and realizing the potential of that initial kernel of a concept.
At this point, you will likely be looking to recruit outsiders to work with you on your project, so it is possible to delegate branding efforts if it makes sense and is feasible within the constraints of your resources. It also pays to turn your view outwards again at this point and see how your rivals are handling brand identity, as this will help both shape your message while also making it distinct and memorable, rather than feeling like a poor imitation.
Shoring up your brand against interlopers is also vital at this stage, just as it is important to protect your IP and stop your ideas from being exploited once word starts to get around.
Something as simple as registering a domain name for your business website can be a great step to take, especially as it does not require any special skills and can be done at almost any point in the journey. This, as with many aspects of validating your business idea, requires swiftness and decisiveness of action, since procrastination can negatively impact more than just your firm’s short-term prospects of growth.
Step 4: Find Your Customers
For most businesses, one of the most significant challenges they face in their early stages is actually getting customers to commit to taking a risk on their as-yet unproven product or service.
Because of this, you need to make sure that as soon as your concept is starting to take shape, you also think about where you will find your early customers, how you will engage them and the means by which you will convince them to take a chance on what you have to offer them.
Acquiring and keeping customers is of course something that organizations of all sizes have to battle to achieve, but if you can lay out your plans to tackle this sooner rather than later, it will make your business idea look all the more appealing and well-founded to anyone who might be looking to invest or involve themselves in other ways.
In the end, you need to be relatively ruthless and deliberately discerning when developing and dissecting any business idea. You also need to come around to the fact that most start-ups do not succeed, and endeavor to learn lessons from those that have gone before. Burying your head in the sand could be sorely tempting, but being realistic and methodical will let you avoid common pitfalls.