Do you have an idea for a business? Before turning any idea into a business you must first have a plan to succeed.
Behind every successful business you’ll find at least one great idea.
For most people, the definition of a successful business is one which is profitable, and a profitable business is built upon ideas that have been properly researched. Here are some steps you can take to research your idea and turn it into a profitable business:
Why Do You Want Your Own Business?
Make a list of the reasons why you want to go into business for yourself. Look at your list critically. Does starting your own business help you realize these things? Examine your underlying motivations and desires, and create true prosperity from your venture.
What Are You Good At?
Make a list of the things you like to do with your time. Success can be elusive if you’re not truly excited about your business. What are your interests and hobbies? What are you good at? What do other people say you are good at? This list represents broad business models which will give you the greatest joy over time. Decide which item(s) on your list you would most like to develop into a business. If you need help coming up with an idea, try the 1000 Ways book by Dan Howe.
Fill a Niche
Focus on filling a niche. It is your expertise, uniquely practiced and applied within your business field, that creates your niche in the market. Throughout the research stage of your idea, pay close attention to how your business can fill a niche. For more on choosing a niche, here is some sound advice from Willie Crawford.
Talk to friends or family who own or work in a similar business. Get their input on your idea. What needs improved on? Why should it be improved and how? Talk to business owners in neighboring towns – so you won’t be perceived as a competitor – and get their input on your idea. These people will likely have insights you never considered.
Participate In Discussion Forums
Discussion Forums are a great way take the pulse of your potential customers. You can also see trends, get feedback, and establish working relationships with like-minded people.
Evaluate Demand For Your Product or Service
You need to understand the pace and direction of your industry. This understanding alerts you to shortcomings with your idea and helps you channel your energies correctly. It also helps you approach your business with innovation and vision. Analyze the available research data and gather data with help from these organizations:
- National Small Business Association
- Nua Internet Surveys
- Forrester Research
- National Association for the Self-Employed
- National Association of Women Business Owners
Research The Competition
Research businesses in your surrounding area in order to size up the competition. Look for ways you can gain a business advantage over your competitors. Ask yourself how your business will be better and different. You should also visit your competitors online. To speed up online searches, utilize Dogpile’s multiple search capabilities. Dogpile queries the top engines for your search term and returns the top 10 listings for each.
Define The Operation of Your Business
Here are some key questions you should answer: What skills and experience do you bring into the business? What are your fixed costs and expenses? How long will it take to make a profit? What laws do you need to comply with? If you need financing where will you get it? Do you need insurance coverage specific to your business? What will be the legal structure of your business?
For help with these questions try these resources:
- Start-up tutorial by the Small Business Administration
- Business Cost Calculators
- SCORE Entrepreneur Mentoring
Write a Business and Marketing Plan
With the information gathered from the steps above, you now have the means to begin writing a comprehensive business and marketing plan. For help in this area try the resources and software available at Bplans and the Small Business Administration.
At the root level, the small business owner has a burning desire to succeed, a “never quit” attitude, and the ability to attract and implement needed resources. All you have to do is throw your research and planning into the mix and you’re well on your way to a successful business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brett Krkosska provides how-to advice on small business and home-based work issues. He is the founder of HomeBizTools and the publisher of Straight Talk, a syndicated column that offers a unique perspective on today’s business issues.