PART 1: RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
All great businesses are born in the minds of people that are courageous enough to believe in something no one else can see. These great people are called entrepreneurs and after conceiving their grand ideas in their minds, they take on risk and set out on a journey to overcome great odds in order to succeed.
When I started Solid Solutions, I knew I wanted to build the company to succeed but I had little knowledge and experience on how to achieve this. It took me longer than necessary to achieve things that now, for numerous reasons, take me a much shorter time to achieve. I often found myself focused on things that were not the core components of getting the business going. In simple terms, I was misguided, immature and lacking in some of the core characteristics that are essential for business success and growth.
My experiences have inspired me write a seven part series on starting out on the right foot. Though there is no exact science that I have found to building a successful business, there are things that all entrepreneurs would be wise to consider before and during the business building process. This series is drafted to position you to start with a solid foundation that will encourage and sustain your businesses growth.
All businesses are born from an idea even though approaching business ideas in a way that cultivates business growth is not a topic that is generally discussed in business books or business school modules. Positioning your business for growth does not just rely on entrepreneurial character and experience, it also relies on the quality of your business idea and your implementation strategies. So before I delve into the 101 of starting a business, I want to address what to bear in mind before you go and spend money trying to make money with your new big idea. I am referring to the short moment of calculation in your mind where you have the internal conversation that convinces you that starting this business venture is an idea worth your time and energy. The rules you bear in mind when you think of your business idea will shape what traps you avoid and what opportunities you create once your business is operational.
Knut Haanaes gave a Ted Talk (Link to talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/knut_haanaes_two_reasons_companies_fail_and_how_to_avoid_them
) that changed how I formulate, evaluate and implement business ideas and plans. According to him, there are two reasons why businesses fail.
The first is that they do more of the same thing and the second is that they do only what is new.
Based on this theory, a lack of adaptability and interchangeable consideration or implementation of both schools of thought may thwart your idea’s potential before it reaches fruition or negatively affect your business after you have invested years into it. In order to avoid the above reasons from being cause for failure, innovation has to meet tradition. In other words, adding innovation to a traditional business model as early as the businesses conception stage will give the business a better chance of survival and better positioning for the marketing and finance or funding phases of implementation. Having an innovative business model and pairing it with experiential data will give the business better positioning in the market.
So when formulating your idea, consider using these 5 points as your evaluation tool;
- Is diverse?
Can your idea cater to different groups of people with the same pain point or problem? Try expanding or testing the idea’s innovation status by imagining the product or service in different settings. If your idea is to start a lodge in a particular area because you struggle to find 4 star accommodation when you visit the area, try innovating by building your lodge around solving other pain points that you experience when travelling to that area. Some of these may be a lack of WIFI, fine dining restaurants or room service, lack of activities for families etc. The objective is to take a traditional service or business model and make it more relevant and innovative by adapting it to innovative and current standards of operation.
- How does the underside of the box look?
Think outside the box is probably one of the more common phrases used to encourage innovative idea generation. Be this as it may, it is indeed helpful to consider your idea from different aspect. What I usually do when faced with such a challenge is to place myself in someone else’s shoes in order to get an idea of how far the service or product will stretch in serving people outside my general network. For instance, you may imagine yourself as someone in a different profession, from a different city, a different country, a different lifestyle and then ask yourself if the product or service will still be of value to you.
- How Inspiring!
The people you surround yourself with are important to the outcome of your journey. Who are you surrounding yourself with? What interests or habits do they have? The more diverse your network the more likely you are to generate diverse and innovative ideas. Even if you do not have a large diverse network of people you know directly, evaluate your influencers and use them as a gauge to measure how diverse, adaptable and innovative your idea is.
- Knowledge is Key
It is not advisable to look at how innovative and adaptable your idea is without obtaining knowledge from case studies, books and other publications that may give you real outcomes people with similar ideas had. The internet serves as a source of information so it is likely that even if you cannot find information on every detail of your idea, you will find strategies or research results from similar business and industry leaders. This knowledge may save you from making mistakes and presumptions that may cost you valuable resources.
- Multiple Dimensions
Living in the perfect balance between doing more of the same and doing only what is new requires an awareness of the past, present and the foreseeable future for your business idea. This requires knowledge, a curious eye and intuitive response. In order to grow a business from the balance of knowing everything and exploring, one has to cultivate a healthy interest in a subject while being willing to seek out and embrace change.
Developing sound ideas is not all that is required in order to build a successful business even though it lays a good foundation on which to build. The articles to follow will add other necessary entrepreneurial dimensions to the concept of developing good ideas and business concepts.