Entrepreneurship: How to Take Business Ideas from Concept to Creation
Ever come across a product or service that you had the for months or maybe even years ago? Perhaps that frustrated you because someone else launched a based on your and is now earning a on it! Maybe you feel like you missed your to create something special.
This is often the painful story of an or -in-the-making who missed out an that awesome to make it big! Yet a new can easily spend months or even years talking about their or project without taking any real action to turn it into a viable . I’ve been in the same spot and totally understand how easy it is to fall into this trap. After all, if we start looking into the topic of or creating a , , , , , , , finding an , challenges, , and so many more related topics. Before you know it, you’ve read more articles than you can count on the topic of and you haven’t taken any steps towards becoming a . , we can easily drown in a sea of information on
The problem for any or -in-the-making is that ideas are cheap. If I gave you a prompt and asked you to brainstorm 10 ideas for that challenge prompt, you could easily come up with at least 10, if not more. What separates us from the who is now profiting off of your or project is execution. That is, they successfully took that from concept to creation and then started a .
My Journey Teaching
I have spent years, facilitating and events like Techstars Weekend and teaching audiences the fundamentals of , , and creation so that aspiring entrepreneurs can take their and launch a . I teach the same strategies to students in courses or programs at the University of Pennsylvania and Sarah Lawrence College. With a surge in interest in becoming an or learning about , these events and programs have been in high demand.
To become an , it is important that we successfully get that out of our heads and onto paper so that we can begin to develop it into what could eventually become a .
4 Steps to Launch an or from Concept to
Step back and get clarity on who you intend to serve. For any to become a viable or , it must first address a real problem faced by a specific group of people. Without a real problem to solve, even a will not succeed. In order to prepare your for the next step, it is critical that you determine:
- who your dream customer is
- what your dream customer’s problem is
- what problems or obstacles your dream customer is facing
- how that problem is currently measured
The following are 5 questions to help guide you through your research. For additional and deeper questions, read my article, 30 Questions to Help You Identify the Problem.
- What is the problem as you currently know it? Describe a specific situation (include the people and stakeholders involved and their role/experience)
- What job or task was the person suffering the problem attempting to accomplish, when the problem happened? Learn more about Jobs to be Done Theory.
- How did the person know the problem was happening or happened? Or did the person not even know? (this opens an interesting possibility)
- How is the success of the attempted job or task measured?
- What does the problem cost to any or all of the stakeholders involved in the problem?
Validate Your Findings – All of the work you did in the first step helped you establish a collection of hypotheses related to the problem, however, this must be verified through first hand investigation and data collection. While you may be absolutely certain that your problem statement is correct, it is almost a certainty that you are not 100% accurate. Validation of your problem, through surveys, observations, experiments, and interviews, will help you refine the problem ahead of beginning the design of a solution. Your problem may be made up of 10, 15, or 20 hypotheses; set up surveys, observations, experiments, or interviews, accordingly to confirm each one. Once you have all of the results, update and finalize your problem statement. Consider the following questions in your effort to validate the problem.
- Are the problem stakeholders you identified actually connected to the problem? If not, did you have too many or not enough?
- Would the person suffering from the problem consider the problem “painful” enough to warrant a solution? Is the job or task they are attempting important enough?
- What evidence do you have to support the estimates for the problem or opportunity cost?
- If the problem is one that no one is aware of, how can you verify it is worth solving?
Solution (re)Design – Let’s be honest, you already had the solution in your mind before you began investigating the problem thoroughly. Thus, with a validated problem in hand, you will need to design or re-design the solution to address the specific elements of problem. For this step, design a solution that does no more and no less than what the problem calls for. Product-Market fit is critical to resonating with potential customers/users. Build too much solution and your customer sees it as too complicated. Build too little solution and your customer is left having to find the remainder of the solution elsewhere. Consider the following questions in your solution (re)design.
- How does your solution allow the user to complete the intended job or task?
- Which features of your solution address which features of the problem? Are there extra features? Or not enough?
- How much does the solution cost in relation to the cost of the problem?
- In what measurable ways does the solution improve/solve the problem? (refer to problem metrics)
- In what measurable ways does the solution complicate the job or task of the user?
- Conduct a cost/benefit analysis of the complications versus improvements.
Design a Sustainability Model – Solutions that are meant to solve problems for people other than yourself must have a way of surviving on their own. That is, they must have a model for sustaining themselves in the market. This is absolutely critical if you plan to scale your solution to reach ever increasing users. Consider the following elements when designing your own sustainability model.
- Target customer segments (distinguish between user and customer, if applicable)
- Value proposition for each customer/user segment, what are they?
- Pricing strategies and models, what are they?
- Fixed and variable cost elements, what are they? (focus on the big ones first)
- Distribution channels and methods, how will you get this into the hands of the customer?
- Competition, who are they, how do they compete with your solution?
- Customer acquisition, how will you find and secure customers?
That said, nothing wrong with reading up and learning about venture capital, innovation, success, private equity, entrepreneurial mindset, silicon valley, entrepreneurial opportunities, finding an investor, founder challenges, entrepreneurial spirit, and more. Just make sure you take action sooner rather than later and get going on launching that venture!