must have been in a moment when you got an idea and thought it is the best idea in the whole world and nothing can stop you this time.
I have witnessed a lot of entrepreneurs and corporate leaders going through this phase. Some of them take the courage to implement their wild ideas without proper steps and sooner or later they realize that its not worth the effort and time. This is common when you are excited about an idea that everything seems possible in your mind.
You can pull out easily if you have not invested your life savings in that idea but if you have, you keep struggling to survive and end up spending more than you initially invested and ultimately you have nothing left financially, psychologically and morally as failure takes its toll.
What makes you different as a corporate leader or an entrepreneur is the belief that you have in your idea and a never give up attitude.
These 5 steps will help you save the time, effort and money and make your idea market ready.
1. Doing Research:
I know this sounds tedious but it is as simple as surfing the internet and that's exactly what you have to do. You don't have to go pro to get the basic information. Just Google some topics like competitors, their products, services, pricing and people's review. These few topics will fetch enough information to help you realize where you stand. Don't worry if your idea is not up to the mark because you have got time to improve the idea before it gets to the market.
When an idea is new and innovative, comparison is not possible. Seeing no other option entrepreneurs take the leap of faith and launch it, hoping to adapt as the market reacts. This is another grave mistake most of the entrepreneurs do. No matter how innovative your idea is, it is very unlikely to work if you go to the market without any information and that's where my next point comes in.
2. Talking about it:
This is a very controversial topic and most of the business owners and top-level executives I had advised were initially afraid of sharing their ideas to the relevant people in the fear of the idea getting copied. It is upsetting if somebody steals your idea but there is a massive positive side to it as well. Let me tell you this, if they copy your idea, they will do the groundwork for you and launch it. Now two things can happen here; either they launch and fail or the product gets accepted by the people. When they launch and fail, you have got an example right in front of you. Study thoroughly and try to understand why they failed and how can you avoid that. The copy cat just saved your money, time and effort from a huge failure. Now if the copied product gets well accepted in the market that's even better because now you know that it works.
Don't immediately launch your product in a rush to compete since your product is similar people might tag you as a copycat instead. Don't sue the copycat, and wait instead. Avoid legal complications unless you are loosing millions on any patent issue. Observe how the market is reacting, read people's reviews; conduct a private survey on that and understand what is lacking and what more people want and how can you improve it. Once you have the improved version, go ahead and launch it creatively. This time there is a very high probability that your product will succeed and acquire a larger market share. A classic example of a similar situation is the case of Apple and Samsung.
Some entrepreneurs are concerned about the 'first mover' advantage but let me remind you that every move in business has its pros and cons. Most of the successful businesses around the world are not the first mover, they are probably the second, third, fourth,.. and tenth mover in the market and to name a few there is Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google, and the upcoming superstar Xiaomi. They are successful because they observed the existing market, came up with a better and simpler solution.
If your idea doesn't get copied then you will have feedback, comments, and criticism that are priceless. Be nice to those who believed in your idea and don't be hard on those people who criticized your idea because they are giving you every reason why it won't work. This is the data you won't get by googling and big corporations spend millions of dollars to collect such data. Take that criticism into your consideration then look for solutions.
The criticism basically saves you, your business idea from a certain failure and helps you to update and improve it before it is launched in the market while increasing the probability to succeed.
3. Getting Clients:
You must have heard and read this a million times in journals, newspapers, articles, silicon valley's entrepreneur interviews etc., that the initial source of your business finance is your friends, families and the people who trust you and lend you money. That theory is now history. You don't need to go around and plead in front of your friends, family, and other people. Get a client before you launch your business officially!
Most of the time you will end up with clients through referrals when you talk and share your idea. Clients are very important as they pay your bills (indirectly) and rewards for your products or services. Now how to get clients even before you launch your business.
I was congratulating my mother a few months ago after she was awarded the 'Best Creative Writer Award' in India. She mentioned to me that most of her books were pre-ordered and she never had to spend a penny to get her books printed, on top of that she had sponsors who wanted some coverage on her books. Basically, she made more money than she needed so she could give away a few books for free and this is the modern way to do business. Become credible!
The client will not pay an advance unless they see value in their investment since this is not a loan and a fee for your product or service. The value can be created when you keep your promise and deliver your product or service in time. When you can demonstrate a sample of your commitment and the potential to deliver, it will help you build a relationship of trust with your client and they will agree on paying advance even before you start your business officially. Give everything you have to satisfy your first client. There is nothing like a satisfied client as they are 100 times more powerful than any other form of advertisement and landing your first client is a pure skill of persuasion and hard work.
When you have a list of satisfied clients, you have free salespeople out in the market talking about how good are your product and services basically creating a market for you even before you enter it.
4. Getting References:
This is a very crucial part and most of businesses neglect it. Whether you are a corporate or an entrepreneur, when you have a satisfied client, request them for at least five references who might be able to benefit from your product or service and there are various ways to pitch it.
Don't be boring and selfish, create some value for them. Some creative way to approach your clients for references are:-
A. Give them a discounted voucher for providing a genuine list of references and let them know that upon the conversion of the references to clients they will get a surprise gift as a token of appreciation. This makes them remember you and also backend convincing of the people they have listed to you as references.
B. Give your client a small amount off of your product or service as an appreciation for the references and let them know that upon conversion of their references to clients they will get 2% - 5% money back on their current purchase.
C. Follow the same strategy as 'B' and give them a 2% - 5% off on their next purchase with you.
D. Remember your client's birthday and send complimentary gifts, vouchers, etc.
There are hundreds of ways to be creative. There is a psychological reason behind the discount after payment or cashback offer. After the payment of the total agreed fees, if you give your customer a discount and a little portion back they feel empowered and delighted and this behavior of yours brings your existing or old clients back to you for more purchases.
References are crucial and effective. It is comparatively easier to convert a reference to a client and even though it might need less convincing, don't leave any excuses on your part and give your 100% to convert that reference into your client.
5. Getting Testimonials:
There are many players in the market who claims to be the best and in that confusion, smart people count on references rather than advertisements. Being an entrepreneur and business leader you will need to turn your early client into your advocates through their testimonials and share it with your prospective clients.
A video testimonial is very effective but some clients are not comfortable with video shoots which is fine, don't force them instead request them for a written testimonial and make sure they are happy and comfortable.
I was questioned earlier if it is possible to apply these strategies in the case of starting a manufacturing plant or a textile mill and similar other venture and the answer is, it is possible to follow the steps above, especially step number three. It all depends on you how you pitch your business and that's the key to success.