So, you’ve got a business idea but need help.
You’re probably thinking what do I do? How and where to start? Don’t worry I’ve got you covered.
The foundational elements are key to the success of your business so, first of all, congratulations for acknowledging you want some help with this.
Once you have a business idea your next steps are:
1. Check your business idea is right for you
2. Understand your ideal customer
3. Create a simple offer
4. Test your offer
5. Decide how to communicate the value of your offer
6. Find people who might want to buy it
7. Build out your marketing machine
Let’s look at that in more detail.
Step 1 – Check your brilliant business idea is a good fit for you
I know, you are probably raring to get started. But take a minute to sit with what running this business will look like for you in the future.
Does it fit with your life goals?
If, for example, you want location-independence and to have lazy mornings, running a bakery is unlikely to be a fit.
If you want to be able to work from home most of the time a business as a motivational speaker might sound exciting but you are probably going to hate the travel.
So does your business idea lead you towards the life that you want for yourself?
I wanted to be able to work from home most of the time but also have the freedom to be able to travel, make my home anywhere and my coaching and consulting business checks those boxes.
Is it something you care about?
To be brutally honest if you don’t care about the work when the going gets tough you won’t do it.
I know this from when I’ve had to do work I don’t care about, so no judgment here.
It’s easy to end up picking a business idea from a list, but what you really want to do is come up with a business idea that suits you, and that’s important to you.
Does it fit with your personality?
We all have different ways of showing up in the world. Some of us are more analytical, some are more creative.
Some people might like to have a sociable business that, for example, might involve in-person events. Others might prefer to work by themselves.
If you want more information on aligning your business with your personality download your personal Entrepreneurial Design Profile.
All of these three together lead to self-actualisation, which is ultimately what we want.
More than freedom, more than meaningful work, more than buckets of money.
Although of course, those things are amazing too.
The satisfaction and fulfilment of it all coming together is what we are really after.
Okay, we’re clear on the idea – what’s the first step?
Maybe you’re thinking the next step is to build your website, right?
If you want your business to be a success and want to save time and money in starting it – don’t start working on your website quite yet.
Think about it this way, if you’d decided you want to build a house would you go out and immediately start buying bricks?
When you’re going to be building something physical, you start by mapping it out – you make a plan.
You get clear on what kind of house you want, how you want to feel in that house, what rooms you need, what materials you need and THEN the building process can begin.
It’s similar in business.
Once you have a business idea the next stage is to get some foundations in place
I want to be clear here I am not suggesting a fully mapped out business plan.
Because at this early stage you don’t have proof of concept yet.
You don’t know if it will work.
Instead what you need is what I call A Concept To Test.
Instead of writing out a huge business plan filled with numbers that, in reality, you would need to make up, what we do instead is take the shortest path to testing your idea in the market.
That means making some foundational decisions about your business and trying it out in a low-pressure environment with minimal set up.
Using this strategy means you get quick feedback and can also get your first clients within weeks, not months.
Step 2 – Understand Your Ideal Customer
It’s important to check whether or not your ideal customer will be motivated and able to buy your product or service.
Ideally, it should address a strong pain point for them and hit one of the seven buying reasons.
You want to know what their hopes, fears and desires are.
What pain point does your business solve? When will they look for help and what will be their reservations about buying from you?
While answering these questions might feel mundane, this is going to help you sell your product (Step 5) and build out an effective marketing machine (Step 7).
When you understand your ideal customer you are also better positioned to explain how you are different and why this makes a difference to them.
If you had a managed Facebook Ads service as an example it would be important to know if many of your customers had had negative experiences with having their ad accounts shut down, one of your points of difference could be that you have a relationship with Facebook and can safeguard their account.
Understanding your customers means you can meet their needs.
Step 3 – Create A Simple Offer
And I mean simple!
Many people at this point feel like they need to make the most spectacular offer including worksheets, courses, videos and whatever else feels particularly amazing.
Resist the urge to do this.
There are three important reasons why you need to keep your offer as simple as possible at this point:
1. Creating a complicated offer with lots of different pieces will take too much time and time is money.
2. Creating a complicated offer will give you a place to hide and procrastinate.
3. Creating a complicated offer is completely unnecessary to make sales.
People want their problems solved. They don’t need fifty worksheets and twenty-seven videos.
Resist the urge to create a year five offer when you are year zero. You just don’t need it.
Create the simplest, easiest way to offer your service and get your clients an initial result.
Step 4 – Test Your Offer In The Marketplace
The next step is to test your offer in the marketplace.
At first for free.
Test the smallest offer you have with someone who has the problem you solve, in exchange for a testimonial.
This will help you tell if you need to change anything. Maybe the session needs to be shorter or longer, maybe you need to prepare differently.
It also gives you social proof in the form of a testimonial and you get real-life experience of how it feels to do this work.
At first, it might be terrifying, but over time, if it’s the right idea for you, it will feel amazing.
Step 6 – Decide How You Want To Communicate The Value Of Your Offer
In other words, learn how to sell your offer.
Selling is just helping people understand how what you have could help them and giving them the information they need to decide whether or not they’d like to enter into a mutually beneficial arrangement.
They want your help more than keeping their money, and you want to help them and be compensated for it.
Your initial reaction might be – but how do I do that?
I don’t have a website, a brochure, a business card or anything yet.
People buy from people.
The easiest way to be able to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement with someone (i.e. make a sale) is to speak with them.
Which means it’s time to learn authentic sales.
Step 7 – Build Out Your Marketing Machine (Including Your Website)
At this point, you know your business idea is a good fit for you.
You’ve learned about your ideal customers, have created a simple offer, have tested it, potentially even made some initial sales and verified the idea in the marketplace.
NOW it’s time to build out your marketing machine, which includes your website.
Honestly, you would have needed all that information to make a compelling website anyway.
You need to have your offers figured out, to write the words that sell your services and to understand your ideal client before putting it all together into a website.
Answering these questions about your business first will make putting together all that content much easier.
Because how can you write compelling copy if you don’t know what your unique value is? How will you know what kinds of images to choose if you don’t know how you want people to feel when they get to your site?
Testing your idea first will lay a strong foundation for your business.
The website is really just the walls and paint colours in this metaphor – and those can be easily changed – while the foundation must remain solid.
If you try to make it up before you know what you are doing it will show.
If your customers can sense any confusion they just won’t buy.
They have to trust that you know what you’re doing!
So, if you want to have a business that gives people a consistent message and leads them to buy, make sure to do the groundwork to test your idea first.
If you’d like more detailed information on how to set up your business using this process and get paying clients quickly come to my free Zero To Paying Clients Masterclass.
I cover business ideas, the process to get you started, what NOT to do, the start up traps to avoid and getting paying clients quickly.
Now I’d like to hear from you…
Have you had a business idea and are raring to start?
Have you ever gone straight into the website development stage from your idea? How did it go for you?
Let us know in the comments below…