So you’ve got a start up business idea?
The short pitch!
Most entrepreneurs have new ideas for a business all the time. If that sounds like you, you’re far from alone! We see opportunities constantly, and we know that somehow we can make the world a better place. All you need is a great start up business idea!
The intention is all well and good. It has to be said though, that not all of the ideas we have are not good ideas. At first glance they seem great, but in reality few are worth the hassle of trying to turn them in to real ventures.
Starting and operating a business is no small task, it’s a lot of work and determination.
The 64 million dollar question is how do you work out if a plan has weight, or should be left in the deep dark depths of your mind?
Through the years, after tonnes and tonnes of trial and error, I’ve developed a system that should help you sort the good ideas from bad. It’s straightforward enough.
Idea to Pitch.
Get the idea out of your mind and on to paper. Try and prioritise the ideas and thoughts in to a coherent, logical piece of writing. I’m not talking about a full blown business plan, just enough to make things clear.
Luckily the first thing to do is create a sales pitch. A short and sweet one-pager including the following points;
Value Proposition – One sentence that quickly summarises the value you will deliver to your customers. A good tip is to use the same mentality as the 140 character allowance for a Tweet.
Problem VS Solution – keep it brief and describe the problem that you plan to solve. Keep it to a sentence or a few bullet points.
Target Audience – Who typically faces the problems outlined above and are therefore likely to purchase your service/product? Think age, sex, location, profession, niche hobbies etc. Don’t try to be be all things to all people, it will have a negative effect in the long run.
Competition – Who? Where? Why? What? Can you be better, faster, cheaper, more productive, less hassle? All of the above?
Sales & Marketing – How are you going to do it? Where? Who to? What’s the process? Remember; at this point you want just a few bullet points, not War and Peace.
Money – More specifically how you’re going to make it, and what you’re going to need to spend to operate. Keep it simple, think of the basics, phone, internet, rent etc.
2) Question everything.
So far your little pitch is based on nothing but absolute assumptions. Is your start up business idea even any good? In order to really drill down into whether there’s a business under all of the guess work, you need to question and challenge those assumptions. How? Asking questions including;
- Does my target market have the problem I think they do?
- What does my target market think of my proposed solution?
- What is my target market willing to pay for my solution?
- Do I have the right target market?
- How does my target market like to buy things?
- What marketing messages does my target market like? Where do they shop and what do they read?
Can you prove what you think and believe? If you can, move on to the next point. If not, rinse and repeat
So you’ve got your assumptions and guesses. You’ve developed some relevant questions to test the theory behind your ideas. Now it’s time to get some data in the form of feedback from potential paying customers. Not friends and family, or people that feel obligated or duty-bound to tell you what you want to hear. No, real money-sending, savvy-shopping potential clientele. Strangers that will, if you ask for it, give you a frank and candid response.
Make a note of everything that’s said. Next we’ll organise it!
4) Refine & Add.
With the feedback, you’ve basically got 2 choices available to you.
Forget your idea all together, or push forward and amend.
Using the feedback and data you’ve collected from what was essentially your market research, you need to revisit what you originally wrote. It’s highly likely that most of your initial assumptions were off center. Using the feedback you can now reassess the situation.
Now, you need to add a few extra points, remember; just 2 or 3 sentences on each is more than enough at this point.
Budget & Goals – What are your expenses to produce what you’ll be selling, and how many are you aiming to sell in a given time frame?
Milestones – Set major goals.
Team – Who else is or will be involved when the time comes to expand? How much money will you need to bank roll these people?
And there you have it, a very simple basic pitch to help you decide whether you should run with an idea, it’s an overview, a guide for you. It gives you the questions that you need to answer. Then it’s down to you.
Feel free to message us on firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.