By: Sonya Barlow- founder & CEO of Like Minded Females Network
I was an accidental entrepreneur that turned an idea to get out of my grey area – a term I used for feeling dissatisfaction or frustration over something – into a successful business and a brand.
That is what drove me to write a formula to ensure others that, no matter their background, can achieve their measure of success. So, what does it take to create a viable business? Here are a few basics and crucial steps.
Finding a business idea.
Remember how you would come up with a new game or reimagine everyday objects when you were a kid? Well, that’s the mindset I encourage you to retain. It will help you identify your grey area, a solution and a why. Write down all ideas or potential problems-solutions combos you have in a sticky note, your phone or notepad.
What if you don’t have an idea? Then, try to determine an approach on how to form it. So, put your mind to work and get uncomfortable by stepping out of the box.
Watch new films, read books outside your industry or usual interests, or practise new habits. For example, can you think of a new way to do a daily task? How about playing the ‘why’ game?
Understand your style of entrepreneurship.
Defining your entrepreneurial style will make other business areas become more precise, relevant, and easier to navigate.
An innovative entrepreneur continually comes up with new ideas and inventions to change the way people think or live.
A hustler entrepreneur usually starts small and works hard to solve problems with their own resources rather than raising capital.
A social entrepreneur is someone who wants to solve social problems with their products or services.
An imitator entrepreneur uses existing business ideas and aims to improve them. Their purpose is to make sure products and services are better and more profitable.
Finally, an intrapreneur fosters an entrepreneur’s characteristics for a large-scale organisation to create and lead improvements to increase profitability.
Defining your style of entrepreneurship will help you keep your business innovative and stop you from losing your passion and drive.
Define your idea through the Lean Canvas Model
Once you have found your idea, it is time to dive further into the details. You have to get your idea out of your head and into a tangible format. The simplest way to do this is by using a canvas model – I recommend the Lean Canvas Model.
This online business tool is used to visualise the nine building blocks needed to start a business, such as a problem, customer segments, unique value proposition, revenue streams, and cost structure.
The Lean Canvas model will help you get your initial thoughts down on paper and evaluate whether they make sense.
Define a customer profile and validate it via social media.
When you start thinking about your business, you may not have a defined customer profile, but you do need to start with at least an idea of who it is.
To create a customer persona – a high-level description of your ideal customer -, you should follow the next steps: identify the problem your business is solving, understand who needs this solution, and create their persona on a one-page template that includes as much detail as possible.
In the age of technology and social media, use digital polls, focus groups, surveys and interviews to validate your customer persona, collect data and then analyse it. You can also validate it by creating a landing page, producing samples, using test ads.
Build your go to market strategy.
Finally, you need to think about how you will launch your business. It is evident that without customers and a community, companies and brands won’t survive.
So that is why it is important to consider nurturing relationships and building a community as essential to your strategy. Of course, the biggest hurdle will be to convert them into customers. But, the right community will make you grow your business.
You can also try cold emailing to reach out to potential customers and gauge their interest, how powerful your pitch is, and what is – or not – working.
Starting a business is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a lot of hard work and determination. Also, don’t be afraid of failure and hurdles that may come. Instead, embrace them, learn from them and lean on your network.
So, take your time and enjoy the process!
Sonya Barlow is an award-winning entrepreneur, founder & CEO of Like Minded Females Network, and author of Unprepared to Entrepreneur – A Method to the Madness of Starting Your Own Business (Kogan Page) priced £14.99.