Bright business idea…what next?
Tim Campbell, founder of Bright Ideas Trust and former Apprentice winner, shares the five steps entrepreneurs need to take when starting a business...
So you’ve got your bright idea for a new business. Now what do you do? Here are five fundamentals to turn your concept into reality:
Get as much advice, experience and support as you can
If you don’t have a business start-up background, try and get some help from people that do. Find someone with genuine start-up experience and get as many tips and as much information from them as you can. The business managers at Bright Ideas Trust are extremely knowledgeable in this area so tap into their free expertise.
Having a mentor can be really useful. A mentor is someone who not only advises you, but can give you emotional support as well -they will be with you all the way from developing your ideas to actually starting the business. Simply having someone who’s been there and done it before, who can share your problems and help you find solutions can be a great relief in itself.
Often this can be a member of your extended family or family friend, and there are schemes in place to match people with experienced business mentors.
Don’t underestimate the value of thinking and planning
Take time to carefully think through your business proposition, making sure you can address the following:
- You can describe your products or services clearly so that your business is easy to understand
- You are genuinely offering something better or different to the competition that your customers value
- You know your key selling points ( features and benefits)
Force yourself to write down your business proposition in a structured and organised way and then create a business plan (not just tools for raising funds, but a useful method of thinking things through). Moving too quickly from napkin or beer mat scribbles to launch day without enough of the thoughtful bit in the middle can cost you heavily in cash and heartache.
Don’t rush to raise money externally
Not all new businesses need large injections of capital to get started; you can often get going with very little.
Think carefully about whether or not you need external funding in the first place. Find as much of it for yourself as you can afford before borrowing money. Always invest capital yourself, as this will be more convincing if you do go to others for funds.
If you do need to raise finance externally, have a clear plan of what type of funding you want – debt, equity or a mixture, how much, what it’s for and what you are willing to give up, or risk for it.
While you’re thinking and planning, find ways to start getting your ideas out there and communicating with your target customers. This might mean developing a prototype, using social media to get feedback on an idea, getting friends and family to test or use your product or service.
You can start developing the business proposition we talked about earlier, and practicing your sales pitch. Use all this feedback to improve your ideas and find out what your competition is doing. You might even begin to create a pipeline of sales prospects by getting followers and likes on social media or signups to a newsletter.
Avoid schoolboy errors
Understand what the most commonly made entrepreneurial errors are and how to try to avoid them. The internet is your best friend at this stage.
Spend your early money wisely. Sales rarely come in as quickly as expected and costs are rarely what you think they will be. Focus on making enough sales to sustain your business rather than splashing out on things that you don’t need, and match your expenditure with how well your business is performing.
Be focused by offering only one or two products to a targeted customer group and do that really well, rather than trying to do too much, for too many, too soon.
Bright Ideas Trust has partnered with Accenture and Tottenham Hotspur Foundation to host ‘Your Lightbulb Moment’ on 17th October, for more information click here.