Taking the plunge – Separating emotion from business viability
First things first. Give yourself a high-five for having an idea that has the potential to translate into a viable business. Most people don’t even make it this far even if they dream of working for themselves. Having said that, having a killer idea doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the business know-how to take it further.
A start-up doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, with Proud Baby, it was over ten years of talking before we were in a position to the idea further.
It’s easy to get carried away with excitement and planning when you are ready to make your business idea into reality. But if you can, try to take a step back and start by creating a business plan. (I’m saying this from experience as we did it the wrong way around!)
Don’t panic, it’s not as scary as it sounds, and with the wonder of the internet, you don’t have to start from scratch as there are many templates available online that you can download. Completing this step will help you to think strategically about your product or service and allow you to separate emotion from realistic viability.
The government website actually has a good basic template that I would recommend, you can find it here: https://www.business.gov.au/Planning/Templates-and-tools/Business-Plan-Template-and-Guide
Another good resource is this website:
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there; running your mission and vision past friends is a great first step. Tell them to be honest and ask as many questions as they can to challenge you and your idea. It’s better to cover and resolve any concerns or potential issues at this point rather than waiting until you’re in a business setting or even seeking investment.
Below are some key considerations covered by a small business plan:
The big picture
Define your mission and business proposition
What gap in the market you are trying to solve? (More often than not, your idea is generated from personal experience; a product or service that you wish existed and think could also benefit others).
Identify your market position; Is there room in the market for your product?
SWOT analysis (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
What is your USP? (unique selling point)
Who is your target market and your key audience? (demographic, location, age, income)
Who are the current market competitors? (Investigate their products, price-point, what their proposition to market is).
Can you afford to make it happen? More importantly, is it an investment that won’t break you if you don’t succeed? I am continually blown-away watching programmes such as Dragons Den/Shark Tank where budding entrepreneurs have sunk every penny they have into an idea. While I admire the positive thinking, always ensure that you can still pay the bills. Even if you do succeed, it’s unlikely to happen overnight.
Basic set-up costs:
Beyond the physical product, there are business set-up costs that must be taken into account. These are all necessities before you even embark on costing your product manufacture and marketing. (which I’ll come to in the next blog):
Business name registration
Website development (development such as a domain name, email accounts and website build)
Website ongoing costs (hosting, online shop costs if required)
Equipment you need to run your business (hardware, software, office supplies)
What skills and expertise do you have and what will you have to pay for? (Think about website set-up, social media training, product photography etc. Thank goodness the days of complicated website building, and coding are over! These days, a basic website is super simple to set up with a number of companies such as Squarespace, Shopify etc and are iterative even for the technologically challenged).
Inspiration – I urge anyone beginning a start-up journey to listen to podcasts by Simon Sinek – he is well-known for his ‘start with why’. Essentially, he points out that we know what we do, and we know how we do it…. but why do we do what we do? His book and podcasts will make you step a step back and really define what you are trying to achieve. Your ‘Why’ should not be about money, but rather, what is the purpose and mission, what is the reason that your organisation exists?
You can watch his TED Talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPYeCltXpxw