Most of us have probably had a great business idea at some point in our lives.
A lightbulb moment in the pub, a problem solved in the shower or brief thought whilst waiting for the bus.
But so rarely do these ideas ever progress beyond a fleeting thought. And setting up a business can be daunting, so most people don’t even get as far as writing the idea down on paper.
Every January, we see a spike in the number of people who buy domains and build websites.
At the start of the year, people have an appetite to do something new, change their lives, and shake things up. But most never see it through because the scale of the task is too great.
So, we’ve built a free online tool to help people articulate and flesh-out their business ideas – and get online – in just 12 easy steps. We will also build a free website for all those who complete the challenge. The steps are:
1.Explain what your business will do
If you can’t explain your idea in just a few sentences, then there’s a good chance that you’re not yet clear in your own mind what your business will do. So what is your ‘elevator pitch’?
This will give you clarity as you move through the next steps.
2. Ask yourself – why now?
In just a few sentences, explain why you think this is the moment to bring your idea to life.
3. Name your business
What do you want to name your business? It can change but try to pin down some initial ideas. Think about any business you admire and consider how their name helps to portray the brand.
4. Give your business a strapline
A strapline is the short line you often see under a brand’s logo. You may not want a strapline, but this is a helpful exercise in getting your idea off the ground. It will help you articulate to your customer what it is you do or sell – or perhaps why you exist.
For example, Apple’s strapline at the turn of the century was “think different”. It got right to heart of the company’s ethos.
Others are more descriptive, like Marmite’s “You either love it or hate it”. What might yours be?
5. Find similar brands
List up to five brands that you aspire to be like. Think about what makes them appealing and why they have been successful. This will inform your initial approach to doing business. Eventually, you will probably find your own way of doing things.
6. Work out your value proposition
List up to five values that describe your business – i.e. honest, handmade, local, etcetera. These values will underpin your brand and shape your day-to-day activity.
7. Find your market
Who is your target audience and where will you find them? You should be able to easily identify your target demographic, and who you most want to be attracted to your business.
You should also do some research to find out whether their needs are already being served by others. You must also try to understand what they care about and what motivates them.
8. Ask how you’ll help customers
How will your business help improve customers’ lives? Try and explain this in under 30 words.
9. Discover your USP
What’s your unique selling point (USP)? What will set you apart from your competitors?
Competition in the market is not necessarily a bad thing. But you need to be sure you can do the job better than they can, and that there will be demand for your product or services.
10. Calculate your costs
Outline the materials, equipment, resources etc that you need to launch your own business. Try not to be too conservative in your estimates. Financial prudence is key to success so start as you mean to go on!
11. Get online
Whatever your business idea, you will almost certainly want to have an online presence. So, explain what the purpose of your website will be and how it will compliment your business.
Will it act as a marketplace or shop window – or will it simply be a place to create your brand identity?
12. Market your business
If you could only tell your customers one thing about your business, what would it be and why?
Complete these 12 steps and you should start to sense whether your idea is workable, because you’ve now got the basis of a business plan. Then all that’s left is the formalities, which there is no reason to fear.
You will need to register with Companies House, decide where you will keep your financial records, and set-up a payments system if necessary. The UK Government website has a very helpful guide to take you through all this [insert link – https://www.gov.uk/set-up-limited-company).
I sincerely hope that our online tool will help people unlock their great ideas. And who knows where those ideas and dreams might lead?