- How to form an idea?
- How to research and develop the idea?
- How to create a functional business plan?
1 How to form an idea?
Look at What’s Bugging You
Ideas for startups often begin with a problem that needs to be solved. And they don’t usually come while you’re sitting around sipping coffee and contemplating life. They tend to reveal themselves while you’re hard at work on something else.
For instance, one company of mine, earFeeder, came about because I wanted news on music I loved and found it hard to get. So I created a service that checks your computer for the music you have stored there, then feeds you news from the Internet about those bands, along with ticket deals and other things.
Be Present in Life
Start your brainstorming with problems that you are personally invested in. Building a business is hard as hell and takes the kind of relentless dedication that comes from personal passion.
The next big question is “How?” Great ideas and innovations come from executing on your idea in a different way than everybody else is attacking it, if they’re attacking it at all. A great way to do this is to look outside of your industry to see how others are solving problems. Approaches that they think are routine might be out of the ordinary for you—and inspire great ideas.
Also, most businesspeople tend to ignore our creative side until we really need it. Making sure that your life has a balance of the arts is a great way to stay engaged creatively.
This last tip will seem insanely obvious. However, in the world we live in, it’s easier said than done: Simply be present in life.
I’m sure you can relate to how overconnected we all are. Something as simple as having a cup of coffee becomes a juggling act of replying to emails and managing schedules. It’s easy to miss a potential piece to your innovation puzzle when it’s right under your nose if you aren’t there.
Let Your Subconscious Do the Work
When the mind is occupied with a monotonous task, it can stimulate the subconscious into a eureka moment. That’s what happened to me. The business model for my company, ClearFit, which provides an easy way for companies to find employees and predict job fit, hatched in the back of my mind while I was driving 80 miles an hour, not thinking about work at all.
The subconscious mind runs in the background, silently affecting the outcome of many thoughts. So, take a break and smell the flowers, because while you’re out doing that, your mind may very well solve the problem that you are trying to solve or spark a solution to a problem you hadn’t considered before.
Attack Practical Problems
Make a note whenever you encounter a service or a customer experience that frustrates you, or wish you had a product that met your needs that you can’t find anywhere. Then ask yourself, is this a problem I could solve? And how much time and money would it take to test my idea?
That last point is crucial. As my sage Stanford professor Andy Rachleff encouraged me, “Make sure you can fail fast and cheaply.” In business school, I had a couple of big ideas. One was improving domestic airline service—which would have cost millions and taken years. I decided to pursue another opportunity that was a lot cheaper and would show results faster—a clothing line called Bonobos.
In the end, it took me just nine months and $15,000 of startup funds to get a little traction and market feedback.
Head Into the Weird Places
For entrepreneurs to stretch their brains, they should seek out the unusual.
Watch and listen to weird stuff. I enjoy watching obscure documentaries and listening to unusual podcasts. It’s thrilling to find cool ideas lurking just a few clicks away.
Walk in weird places. I take walks in hidden suburban neighborhoods, department stores, community colleges. When you’re walking with no purpose but walking, you see things in fresh ways, because you have the luxury of being in the present.
Talk to weird people. Striking up conversations with people who are different from you can be powerful. I still remember random conversations with strangers from decades ago, and how they shaped me.
2 How to research and develop the idea?
1.Consider and analyse the relevant markets
Firstly, consider the market niche(s) that your startup idea is applicable to. What are the needs of the industry and its consumers? Are there any unresolved problems faced by the industry? Is your startup idea going to bring resolutions and improvements to the situation? You can refer to industry-specific authority sites to keep you constantly updated with the latest trends. For example, Techcrunch is an excellent technology blog that talks about the latest products, and shares the latest news in the tech world. It also profiles new startups and provides an overview of up and coming fledglings in the market.
An excellent source of inspiration is TED, which is famous for its widely known slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading”. It is a treasure chest of information about everything imaginable under the sky. It is incepted as a conference where experts in various niches convene to share their insights on issues that can bring about revelations and raise awareness. Presenters usually have around 18 minutes to talk about their topic and the focus of their presentation can span from the latest advancements in a field of discipline to societal issues that they wish to heighten the awareness of. After attending the talks or watching its videos, you will leave feeling more inspired than ever
2.Note down your ideas and expand them
At this stage, you might have identified needs or areas that can be improved upon. Note them down with a tool such as Evernote. Evernote allows you to save clippings of web pages, images and even attached documents and powerpoint slides. You can create several notes and sort them out according to topics and genre. Evernote can be accessed via various platforms such as windows, ios and android. A simple click of the sync button will ensure that your notes are synchronized across all platforms.
3.Carry out competitive analysis
Competitive analysis is a great way of comparing and predicting how your business will stand up against your competitors in the industry. Is your business able to fill in a void that’s left untouched by others?
Here’s how to go about executing your competitive analysis:
4.Model your business
If the idea of creating a business plan seems too tedious and clunky, you will delight in using Leancanvas and Canvanizer. They are templates that emulate a one page business model. It is easy to add and update the model. You also get to enjoy a clear overview of the following nine building blocks of your business model: customer segments, value propositions, channels(to reach out to clients), customer relationship, revenue streams, key resources, activities that create value, key partners, and cost structure.
5.Create/design/sketch your mockup and then test it
The time has long past the stage where you have draw sketches on a whiteboard and scribble all over the place. Online tools such as Balsamiq and Framebox allows you to create wireframes and export it in different formats such as jpg or pdf. There are several buttons or components of a web application for you to choose so you can put together your sketch easily. Want to get feedback on your mockup sans unnecessary distractions and confusion? InfluenceApp is the way to go. You can upload your design in various formats and assimilate the rest of the documents to form a complete presentation. You can then share the final mockup with your teammates simply by sharing a URL, and they can provide feedback simply by pinning comments on the specific elements of the design. It’s that easy!
6.Execute a market survey
No business ought to be launched without the execution of a market survey. Websites such as Survey Monkey allows you to create an online questionnaire and send the URL to your targeted audience. This transcends geographic boundaries which is one major advantage compared to on-field survey as you can gain a broader, global perspective.
Another alternative is to conduct a focus group session before or after the completion of your Minimum Viable Product. This is where you invite people from your targeted demographics to participate in a group discussion on the products or services. A focus group can help you achieve the following:
· Finding out consumer’s first impression of the product or services based on packaging and marketing campaign
· Gathering customer’s real time feedback on the virtues and vices of the products/services
· Tweaking your marketing strategies and improving your product before the final deliverable
3. How to create a functional business plan?
Using Lean Startup instead
1. Business plans rarely survive first contact with customers. As the boxer Mike Tyson once said about his opponents’ prefight strategies: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
2. No one besides venture capitalists and the late Soviet Union requires five-year plans to forecast complete unknowns. These plans are generally fiction, and dreaming them up is almost always a waste of time.
Sketch Out Your Hypotheses
Start-ups are not smaller versions of large companies. They do not unfold in accordance with master plans. The ones that ultimately succeed go quickly from failure to failure, all the while adapting, iterating on, and improving their initial ideas as they continually learn from customers
First, rather than engaging in months of planning and research, entrepreneurs accept that all they have on day one is a series of untested hypotheses—basically, good guesses. So instead of writing an intricate business plan, founders summarize their hypotheses in a framework called a business model canvas. Essentially, this is a diagram of how a company creates value for itself and its customers. (See the exhibit “Sketch Out Your Hypotheses.”)
Second, lean start-ups use a “get out of the building” approach called customer development to test their hypotheses. They go out and ask potential users, purchasers, and partners for feedback on all elements of the business model, including product features, pricing, distribution channels, and affordable customer acquisition strategies. The emphasis is on nimbleness and speed: New ventures rapidly assemble minimum viable products and immediately elicit customer feedback. Then, using customers’ input to revise their assumptions, they start the cycle over again, testing redesigned offerings and making further small adjustments (iterations) or more substantive ones (pivots) to ideas that aren’t working. (See the exhibit “Listen to Customers.”)
The traditional one:
Within the overall outline of the business plan, the executive summary will follow the title page. The summary should tell the reader what you want. This is very important. All too often, what the business owner desires is buried on page eight. Clearly state what you’re asking for in the summary.
The business description usually begins with a short description of the industry. When describing the industry, discuss the present outlook as well as future possibilities. You should also provide information on all the various markets within the industry, including any new products or developments that will benefit or adversely affect your business.
Market strategies are the result of a meticulous market analysis. A market analysis forces the entrepreneur to become familiar with all aspects of the market so that the target market can be defined and the company can be positioned in order to garner its share of sales.
The purpose of the competitive analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your market, strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage, the barriers that can be developed in order to prevent competition from entering your market, and any weaknesses that can be exploited within the product development cycle.
The purpose of the design and development plan section is to provide investors with a description of the product’s design, chart its development within the context of production, marketing and the company itself, and create a development budget that will enable the company to reach its goals.
The operations and management plan is designed to describe just how the business functions on a continuing basis. The operations plan will highlight the logistics of the organization such as the various responsibilities of the management team, the tasks assigned to each division within the company, and capital and expense requirements related to the operations of the business.
Financial data is always at the back of the business plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important than up-front material such as the business concept and the management team.