To know whether or not you have a viable business concept, you have to comprehensively define (on paper) your thoughts, ideas, and vision. You also need to gather information related to those ideas: market size, competitors, pricing, and so on. With that information in mind, you begin the process of determining if you are on track to a successful business. The first question to ask – Is your idea a good one or not?
Many highly successful businesses have been started on ideas other people thought were crazy. Many unsuccessful businesses were started as “sure things.” How do you know before you start if your idea is worthwhile? How do you determine if there are already “too many” other businesses out there doing what you want to do? Maybe your concern is that all the players in the business you want are established and have a huge share of the market? How do you decide? How much importance is there in how many competitors and other factors are at play in the business, industry, or niche you want to enter?
The questions above are all valid. There are as many answers to them as there are unique situations. While there are a number of factors to assist you in determining whether or not to start the business and/or which target market to pursue first, here are a few to consider:
- How well recognized are you in the field you want to enter? Unknown or widely known?
- How broad a client or customer base are you seeking? Individuals or businesses (a few large corporate clients or lots of small businesses)?
- Are the clients you seek on-going, recurring, or one-time only?
- How long can you take to establish and grow the business financially?
- How is your business going to be different if others are in direct competition with you and already in the market?
- Are you looking for the “cream” customers (top 10%) or are you looking for volume?
- Do you have competitive advantage in technology, processes, or business knowledge?
- What are you going to do differently to stand out?
- Can you develop collaborative and other relationships that will jumpstart your business?
- Why you, because you are part of the “product”?
Some of the questions above are very similar or related to each other. The answer to each provides a differentiation point or unique selling perspective that needs to be conveyed to the client. Many smaller companies have entered markets where huge companies have near monopoly power. They not only succeeded, they changed the market in such a way that they knocked the giant company out of the way and significantly impacted the “playing field.”
Keep in mind that victory often goes to the most nimble, flexible, and consistent competitor – not the biggest, flashiest, or the one with the deepest pockets. Some ideas really are non-starters; most, however, simply require sound business practices, marketing and sales know-how, and the financial resources and patience to do the right things, at the right time, for the right reasons.
As you validate your concept, keep these points in mind:
- First to market doesn’t equate to ultimate success.
- Sound business practices and processes enhance any product or service – and bottom-line returns.
- It is often better to follow the good idea today, rather than waiting for an “ideal” time and place or the great idea tomorrow.
- Having a quantifiable, measurable, time-specific objective and a plan will keep you focused and on track.
- Changing direction or deviating from your plan is fine – be certain the change is as conscious decision as possible: understand what you are responding to and why – adapt, change and thrive.
- Ask for help – everyone needs objective perspectives and expert advice. Find it, use it, or adapt it – don’t go blindly forward if you don’t have to.
Most of all, don’t be afraid to try. The worst case is that you have a fantastic learning experience. A business of your own may not ultimately be what you want or what best suits you. Try it, you may just find being your own boss is exactly what you’ve been seeking.
Copyright © 2007 Lea A. Strickland and F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.