First-time entrepreneurs ready to take the plunge are often indecisive about what to do after they’ve decided on the kind of business idea/concept they’re going to pursue. Many also feel overwhelmed by the volume and complexity of tasks that need to be undertaken and are not sure of where to invest their first dollars. In this three-part series, we'll explore this common conundrum.
In the list below, we outline three steps that will help you formulate your concept further and lay the foundation for your business – none of which require an extreme cash investment! In fact, you can follow these three steps for under $50.
Conduct a Sweet Spot Analysis. Wouldn't it be easier if your idea centered around something you know you and your team will be good at? Especially before you started executing on it? That's the purpose of Jim Collins' Hedgehog principle, author of "Good to Great." This concept revolves around three circles – a) determining what you can be the best at b) deciding what drives your economic engine and, c) documenting what you're deeply passionate about. Figure these out and you (as well as your team) will be on your way to understanding the full potential of what you can be the best at. (For more information on finding your sweet spot, see our previous post).
Don't have the book? Don't worry, the author has a great site that takes you through this exercise as well as many others. Go ahead - determine your sweet spot!
Apply Guy Kawasaki's ten-slide Pitch Deck. "The Art of the Start" is a must-read for all entrepreneurs. The book outlines ten key points about starting a business, bootstrapping, and pitching your ideas to investors. While you're not going to be ready for investors yet, building on these points and putting together the ten slides helps to nail down the answers and ensures you understand your business. For an excellent overview of the book, check out this SlideShare PowerPoint.
- Bounce your ball with a circle of people. For our final step, we recommend creating a diverse circle of people (business and non-business people) who you can "bounce your ball" with over breakfast or coffee. Sit down with your friends and run your ten-slide pitch deck by them. If the ball makes a "splat" sound, you know you need to continue to iterate on your story. Don't be discouraged if they don't like your idea – listen to their feedback (especially the negative kind) and modify your approach. Progressively widen your circle until you are ready to launch.
We encourage you to apply the above steps before investing money in other parts of your business. Make sure you have the basics clear in your mind before executing, and where to spend the money will be obvious.
Stay tuned for Part II, where we'll discuss the best way to build your infrastructure.