If only it was just about your great idea. Most entrepreneurs are passionate about their product or service, but turning it into a successful business requires careful planning and execution. Start with a business plan that lays out your core objectives and follow it to achieve long-term success. It's easy to get caught up in the details, but always come back to three key points: the who, what and how of your business.
Identify Your Customer
You have a great product, but who's going to buy it? Maybe it's someone like you, or maybe it isn't, but you need to know where your target customer is, where she shops, what she likes, and how much she's willing to pay. Ideally, your customer is high-value: this means she's easy to access and will buy your product with minimal marketing. You can even tweak your product using customer feedback through social media so you know who's part of your market and what they will buy.
Know Your Value Proposition
People don't hand over money without good reason, so figure out what you offer that your competitors don't. You might be innovative, increase efficiency or sell an entirely new, out-of-the-box product or service.
Once you know why people will choose to buy from you, you can link that value to elements of your business operations and provide it consistently to customers over the long-term. If people love your dishware's stunning ceramic finish, you can't start manufacturing it out of plastic. Similarly, if people love the personal touch of your dog grooming service, you can't start selling automated puppy washes at the expense of one-on-one customer attention.
Plan Your Delivery Process
You know what you're selling and to whom, but now you have to put your business procedures in place. While you're at it, you have to ensure you make a profit.
Plan out an efficient delivery system of your product or service. This encompasses everything from manufacturing and distribution to establishing the right price point. These factors will adjust as your business matures, but in your initial business plan, make sure you have a clear picture of how you will turn your great idea into real cash now and for the long-term.
Remember cash flow is essential: you need an operation that generates high margins which you can put back into the business. Know what you have to clear not only to break even, but to plan for contingencies or to expand the business in the future.