Before the leap

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Before the leap

You never know when that brilliant idea may hit you. It might happen to you while you have barely woken up from bed or while out grocery shopping. The idea, you feel, has the potential to benefit many people and make you fortunes. What do you do? Many would dwell a little on the idea, talk to some people and eventually forget about it. The common misconception is that you need have an innovative idea to have a chance at success.While a great idea will increase your chances of success, execution remains the most fundamental key in entrepreneurship. There were many predecessors of Facebook, Google, or Apple. The ideas behind them were not unique; their key to success lay behind their ability to successfully execute those ideas.

If you think you’ve truly found an idea that works and are passionate about it, you should push to convert it into a viable business. Furthermore, there are few major questions an aspiring entrepreneur must ask while considering turning their idea into a business. Finding answers to these questions will greatly increase your chances of success.

 

Are you solving a big-enough problem?

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is whether your idea is truly worth it. Your idea needs to solve a problem people face in their daily lives. However, this in itself is not sufficient; there needs to be enough people with this problem for you to be able to make money from it. For instance, if your business idea is to create a butter knife that heats up to make cutting butter easier, then it is only serving a small percent of population that faces this specific problem. It is a good idea to create a solution that focuses on a part of the market; however, if that market is too small, the revenue you will earn from will be small too. To be able to determine whether your idea has potential, you need to get out and talk to people. As you start talking to people you will realise whether there are enough people with the problem to make your idea viable. Through this you will be able to determine the demand for your solution and the market-size for the idea. You can also make use of various online forums to gauge the need of your idea. A word of caution: never let your attachments to the idea blind you from the bitter truth. Data is king in business, work towards collecting data about your business, not emotions.

 

Is your solution significantly better than the current alternatives?

Once you’ve determined that the problem you are trying to address is big enough, it is time to test out your solution. The chances are that if the problem you are solving is lucrative, then there already are competitors out there. Therefore, your solution needs to be considerably better than those of the existing competitors. You need to find a unique selling point for your solution, something that cannot be easily replicated by competitors. In addition, there are three ways to make your solution stand out: make it better, faster and/or cheaper. For instance, if you are making an app for a taxi booking service, you could focus on making it easier to find taxis, and cheaper to hire them. You need to make a product whose benefits outweigh the effort of switching from the existing solution. While considering the features of your product, it is smart to look at the current options people have, observe how they use it and what they like and dislike about the options. This lets you have an insight on the needs of the product. Once you find the need, create prototypes, let your consumers use it, collect feedback, make improvements and test it again. Do this until you’ve reated something of value.

 

Do you have people who will join you?

If you’ve made it to this step, then you’ve probably understood the potential of your idea and are rearing to give it a shot. However, a business is not run by just one person, it needs a team.

Facebook is not run by Mark Zuckerberg alone, it is run by his team, and the same goes for any other successful business. A startup team either makes or breaks the business. If you are unable to find people who believe in your vision and are willing to join you, it is almost guaranteed that the idea will fail. This team is the one who execute the idea, and execution is key in entrepreneurship. While choosing team members you need to think about all the skills you would need to execute your idea. If your product relies heavily on programming, then you need a team of experienced programmers. If your product needs to be sold door to door, then you need people with sales experience. As you assess the needs of the business, you will start to formulate the roles you need. The best place to find people is near you. Look at your university, your relatives, and your workplace. If you find someone interesting, you should approach them. Recruit people you know closely or work well with. A good team dynamic will make it easier when the going gets tough.

 

Can you execute your idea?

The sad reality of running a business is that within the first year of operation 90 percent of them fail. This grim statistic speaks volumes on the uncertainty of running a business. Considering this, you need to ask yourself whether you have what it take to not burn out or if you will have the fortitude to overcome all the obstacles. The romanticised idea of an entrepreneur—off in some exotic location working on his/her laptop—is only half the truth; they are among the highest echelon of entrepreneurs. For most of us, running a business means putting in more hours than the regular nine-to-five job, making sacrifices in order to concentrate on the business, and working hard for years to make some progress. If this does not sound like something you want, then you might not be ready to run a business. However, the problem does not only lie in the fortitude of the entrepreneur. Something as straight forward as not having enough money can hinder you. If, for instance, your business idea concerns mass manufacturing then you need a considerable amount of money up front to buy or lease machinery. If you lack the resources to execute the idea, and attaining those resources takes a significant jump from your current situation, then you might not be the right person for the idea.

The move from idea to a business is not a small step but rather a significant leap. There are many things that will lead to thefailure of a business. However, if you are prepared these risks can be mitigated. Being able to answers questions about the viability of the idea, the market potential, the ability to create a team, and having the resources to execute the idea will help you successfully turn your idea into a business.

*First Published by the Author in The Kathmandu Post

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Guest Tuesday, 24 May 2022