TURNING YOUR INTEREST OR PASSION INTO A BUSINESS ISN’T EASY, BUT IT CAN BE DONE.
Here at IMentor we have this conversation with aspiring entrepreneurs all the time. They show up at an initial mentoring meeting with a lot of energy and double of hope. What they don’t have is a lot of clarity about how to get started, or even if it’s an idea worth pursuing. Here are the six simple questions we ask them in order to help them get clarity on both.
- Why do you want to do this?
Is this really something worth pursuing or are you running away from something else? Sometimes we find that rather than a real passion for doing something else, they just hate their current job and are looking for a way out, or they are out of a role and cannot face getting back into work at a lower level….. If your new business is just an escape from your current reality, it’s doomed.
The more you believe in your “why” for this new business, the more likely you are to do what it takes to make it happen. That’s not to say that your business has to be about saving or changing the world, but it had better mean that much to you.
So why exactly do you want to start your business?
- What are you willing to sacrifice in order to make it happen?
Remember that time that your friend asked you to come help him move house? He told you that it would be a piece of cake, everything will fit in the van, and you would be out of there in three hours. But seven hours into the move, the van was so full that you couldn’t fit the fridge freezer in so you had to make a third trip.
Building a business from scratch is the same way. It will take exponentially more time, more money, and more effort than you think. It’s helpful to get clarity up front about what you are and are not willing to sacrifice in order to make it successful. You might have to sacrifice sleep by getting up two hours early to work on your idea before you go to your full-time job. You might have to sacrifice the relaxed lifestyle you enjoy. You might have to sacrifice spending most evenings playing with your kids or hanging out with your significant other. You will definitely have to make sacrifices, it’s just a matter of what.
So, what are you willing to sacrifice in your own life in order to make your business become a reality?
- Who is your ideal client?
Normally, when we ask this question the first time, they answer “Everybody’s my customer!” Wrong answer. Your new company needs a compelling brand and a compelling value proposition. If you build it as to be so bland as to try to appeal to everybody, you won’t appeal to anybody (not even yourself). Your ideal client description should exclude 90%-95% of potential customers. For example, one of our sister companies, Insta Social’s ideal client is male or female, 23-40, in a leadership or marketing role in their business, who earns at least £35,000.00. This is who our Insta Social brand is built for, and our marketing and design targets this demographic.
Now, that doesn’t mean that we only work with people who fit that criteria. In fact, some of my favourite, most successful clients don’t fit any of those categories. The point is that we have a focused brand that resonates with our ideal client. You should too.
So who’s your ideal client?
- What are you selling?
OK , so time to get specific. What exactly are you selling? Seems like an easy question, but this usually takes time to work through. Now, if your business is built around a product, the answer might be obvious. You’re selling an iPhone case with a built in flashlight and laser beam. Cool. So, how many colours are you selling? Which models of iPhone will your cases fit? Are there different models, maybe one with a colored LED, or optional laser beam?
The answer to this question gets more complicated when you’re selling a service. If you have an idea for a recruitment, what exactly are you selling? For example, with IMentor, we sell start-up mentoring and business turnaround. Our standard mentoring package is 8 one-hour coaching sessions. We also sell different packages from single sessions to discounted multi sessions. We keep this simple – there are no complicated maths or semantics… just simple services offered in simple language.
So what exactly are you selling?
- What are your prices?
There are really two questions to answer here. 1) What are your ideal clients willing to pay for your product or service? and 2) What do you need to sell it for in order to make a profit?
Now It’s time for market research. How are other comparable products/services priced? What price does your brand support? Are you looking to compete on price like Aldi or on quality and customer experience like Waitrose?
One of the biggest pricing mistakes we see people make, especially with service based businesses, is pricing too low. You are basically selling your time and your expertise. Don’t undervalue what you do.
So where are you going to set your prices?
- How are you going to generate leads?
This is the most overlooked aspect of the aspiring entrepreneur’s business idea. Most people we meet have only a vague idea of how they will find customers. Here’s the brutal truth. No matter how good you idea is, your business is most likely going to fail because you don’t find enough customers.
There are a lot of things you are really excited about with your business idea, sales is probably not one of them. That’s a problem. More than anything else, entrepreneurs have to be salespeople. Now, we don’t mean that you have to have a background in sales. What I mean is that you had better be willing to devote most of your energy to finding customers and getting them to buy from you. Make no mistake, a website is only your shop window to potential clients, but as a new business you will need to signpost people to find your window! A website, facebook account or social media will not automatically produce leads for you – you will have to get out there! And you won’t just be selling to customers…. you will need to sell your idea to people you want to hire, people you want to invest, people you want to refer business to you, and people you want to partner with. So, are you ready to start selling?
So, what’s your plan to generate a consistent stream of leads that you can convert to customers?
There is a lot that goes into taking an idea and turning it into a business. These six questions are just somewhere start, not a comprehensive or exhaustive list. It’s also likely that your first answers won’t always be the right answers. Building a business is an tough process. Your brand, your offerings, your pricing will change over time. That’s OK. You still need somewhere to start.
Are you ready to stop just thinking and talking about your big idea and actually do something about it? It’s all about YOU – no one will do this for you….but if you really are….. Good for you!
But first, answer these six questions.