Are you planning to start a new enterprise?
Creative control, flexible work hours, and the freedom to make your own decisions are some of the perks that could be driving your entrepreneurship journey. However, you get to reap these benefits only after withstanding the initial hurdles of finding a lucrative idea and transforming it into a profitable budding business.
The first 100 days are crucial in determining whether your new business will make the journey from brainstorming to sustainable growth. Burnout during this period can break your entrepreneurship dream, but an effective business plan, supported by the right information and tools, can help avoid burnout and increase chances of success.
For aspiring entrepreneurs like you, we’ve created a How To Become an Entrepreneur series that will guide you through the first 100 days of preparation. In part one of the series, we cover the initial 0 to 30 days where you’ll look for potential business ideas, shortlist the one you most relate to, and create a business plan.
Before pouring all your funds into setting up a new business, ask yourself: Do you have a unique and profitable business idea? If the answer is yes, proceed to develop your idea into a business plan. But if the answer is no, then you need to find a suitable idea before doing anything else.
Most successful businesses are backed by an idea that addresses a market issue and makes life easier for people. Therefore, having a great business idea is key for your new business to flourish.
Your business idea should also be unique, or you could be facing tough competition from other market players. Stiff competition can lead to low sales, affecting the growth of your business.
Now that you understand the importance of having a viable idea, let’s move to the steps of finding one for your new business. Here’s a 30-day roadmap to lay the groundwork for building a viable business plan.
During the first five days, research and learn as much as possible about your business interests. This is the time to analyze your entrepreneurial skills and the available resources to check if you need anything else. Seek answers to the following questions to get your analysis right:
Write down all the risks that you can think of. Market trends, competition, finance, and reputation are some common ones, but don’t limit your research to only these common obstacles. Take your time to research online. You can also talk to other entrepreneurs to identify risks you may have missed. Awareness of all possible risks will help you plan adequate remedial measures.
This question checks your knowledge of setting up a new business. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses is essential to owning and running a profitable enterprise. To get the answer, perform a SWOT analysis on yourself, focusing on your role as a budding entrepreneur or small business owner.
SWOT analysis is the process of preparing an organized list of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. These insights will allow you to assess your current skill as well as build the expertise required to start and sustain a successful enterprise.
Not sure how to perform a personal SWOT analysis? We’ve created a free SWOT analysis template that you can simply download and get started.
After identifying potential risks as well as your entrepreneurial knowledge, start working on your skills and networking. Look into educational programs, such as business administration, to gain the right business development skills.
You can also explore mentorship programs such as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to upskill and grow your business network. SBA is a government-funded agency that helps small business owners and entrepreneurs build a network and support each other throughout the entrepreneurial journey.
Through in-depth market research, you’ll be able to identify a viable idea for your new business. All your analysis related to risks, strengths, weaknesses, resources, and networking will help you find a business idea that you are not only interested in but also have the skills to transform into a profitable enterprise.
Here are some questions you should be answering during this period:
Target market is the market in which you seek to compete by selling your idea in the form of a product or service. For instance, an idea to sell organic food items would belong to the food and beverage (F&B) industry where you’ll sell your products to health-conscious consumers.
Defining your target market will allow you to develop an understanding of market competition. What does the competitive landscape look like? Are there other businesses whose offerings are similar to yours? Having many competitors is a sign that you have a valid business idea, but it also means that you’ll have to put in high efforts to stand out in the market.
Your offering’s unique value proposition (USP) differentiates your business from other businesses in the same market. Therefore, highlight these differentiating aspects or USPs to attract more consumers. Your USP could be superior product functionality, excellent service quality, or timely customer support, among others. The key is to select an innovative business idea that not just appeals to your target market but also solves their issues.
Your business idea will sell well if it solves the problems of your target market. Therefore, identify pain points that apply to larger populations within your target market. Inefficient existing products and high demand vs. low supply are some probable pain points.
Your research on target markets will help you identify problems; however, the key is to listen to the frustrations of customers. Conduct surveys to analyze your target market for existing products and services. Through the surveys, seek answers to the following questions:
It’s essential to understand how big your identified problem is. Is it urgent? Does it require an immediate solution? Will customers care whether or not the problem is solved? Besides the solution you’re planning to offer, is there a way for customers to solve the problem?
Another important aspect to consider is if the problem applies to a significant percentage of the target market. Use quantitative research to collect data on how many customers are facing the identified problem. Data collection methods include surveys, census information, and primary research. Try out these free survey software tools to conduct your research cost-efficiently.
Based on the competitor analysis you’ve already conducted, check the demand and supply of existing market offerings to solve the identified problem. Which products are sold the most? What are the reasons for their high demand? Answering these questions will help identify the gaps in your offerings and offer the right solutions, allowing you to make a strong presence in the target market.
Your research for identifying existing market problems will also help you find a potential solution. Validate the solutions you’ve identified by seeking answers to the following questions:
To answer this question, consider consumer behavior traits such as preference and spending capacity. In addition, check the industry segment your solution caters to—whether it’s a product or service or a mix of both. A deeper understanding of consumer behavior and industry segmentation will offer a clear picture of your solution’s usage and how it can help the target market.
The answer to this question lies in your solution’s USP. The features of your solution—be it a product or service—should distinguish it from competitors; only then will users in your target market start realizing the importance of your solution in addressing their problems.
Measure the impact of your offering by conducting surveys and creating a focus group that initiates discussions with a few customers (sample set) from your target market. You can also soft launch the solution (offer it to a limited audience without any promotions) in the form of demos and trials.
Scalability is important to ensure consistent growth for your new enterprise. Therefore, have a long-term approach when developing a solution. Your solution should address not only existing market problems but also any emerging issues that could arise with changing consumer needs.
The 30 days of groundwork for idea generation mark the start of your journey toward becoming a successful entrepreneur. By the end of your first 30 days, you’ll have:
A potential business idea
Customer pain points in your identified target market
Solutions to address the pain points and grow your business
With these three elements, you are now ready to move to the second phase, which is all about getting funding for your new business.
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