Getting organised is essential, and don’t be surprised at how long it can take.
Over the past 15 months – in our spare time, of which there is not a lot – I have been working secretly with a business partner on developing a new range of products for a very crowded and competitive market.
Sign up for SmartCompany newsletter.
Free to your inbox every weekday
I was initially surprised it took this long to develop a business concept that we felt confident has an edge; after all, we are both mature, serial entrepreneurs with loads of experience.
Then I looked at the steps we have gone through to reach the final concept stage and I am glad we have not rushed – as many do – towards failure. This is what we now have.
A clear vision of our potential customers and how they will benefit from our product. Even more importantly, we have a clear picture of how we can market these benefits to our customers. Too often creative entrepreneurs dream up a great idea without really understanding the real or perceived customer benefits.
A written partnership agreement that covers all contingencies. We believe it is best to iron out all potential problems before we go to market, something that is achieved through this document along with frequent and honest communication.
A product/service that truly adds value, has real benefits and is in line with consumer trends. For this information we have consulted with numerous experts who have proved to be invaluable in redirecting and refining our thinking. The concept of adding value is a highly subjective one, so we have tested our concept on as many of our potential customers as possible (in such a way to preserve the confidentiality of our plan, I should add).
Extensive market research. We have taken every opportunity to assess both the local and global market trends and competition. We have consulted not only with our potential customer base but also the retailers we would be distributing through.
A sound marketing and distribution strategy. Although marketing is a strength in our partnership, we have been very active in consulting with successful contacts in this area.
Risk management. We have needed to understand the financial and other risks we will need to manage. These are not always apparent upfront, but over time the full list has become clearer. So far these risks have not deterred us but rather given us a more realistic view of costs and timelines.
The lessons of past business experience. My business partner and I have had many years of running and advising to businesses – but all this aside, we know that it is vital to keep learning and remain open to new ideas. If you do not have many years of business experience, I suggest that a business coach or mentor will be vital to assist you with your startup. I strongly recommend that your adviser be an experienced entrepreneur or at least a person well acquainted with the requirements of a business startup. You will most certainly require sound financial and legal advice. The best way to find the right advisers is though other successful business people.
A passionate commitment to succeed. We know that no matter how great the product and how carefully thought-through the marketing strategy, our commitment to succeed will be the final key to success.
Hey, that’s not bad for 15 months.