Getting the fundamentals right so the rest falls in place a little easier
Often new (or even experienced) entrepreneurs would come up with a brilliant concept or product, wondering why no-one has ever thought of it before. Chances are (and more often than not) than many others have thought of the same thing, but has discounted it due to the lack of some of the essential ingredients.
Just like a good recipe, a business idea also needs the right mix of components in order to be a success.
For me the essentials of any new idea or product are the following:
- Demand - There is no point bringing something to market if there is no-one out there that wants it.
- Availability - Having a great product means nothing if your market cannot get to it. Price it right and make it possible for people to purchase it.
- Awareness - If no-one knows about your great innovation then it may as well not exist. Market, market and market.
- Value and Service - Yes, often overstated but there is nothing that inspires word of mouth marketing like value for money and good service.
- Admin - Yuck, who cares about admin? I am here to sell my product. Wrong!. If you do not stay on top of your admin your business will soon come apart at the seams.
- Think Ahead - Long term planning is a must for any business. Think about how your customers' needs will change, how competitors may alter the playing field and how your supply chain could pull the rug out from under your feet.
- Research- Doing competitor analysis and product research is just the beginning. a SWOT analysis can safe you a fortune down the line, so do your homework.
- Network - No business operates in a vacuum. Join the local business chamber and other similar organizations. Networking works, and the recommendation of a peer carries far more weight than an anonymous advert.
- Finance - My products are selling, why should I care? Are you on top of your production costs? Do you know exactly what it costs to make each product? How does the rise in fuel prices affect your business? How many items do you need to sell a month to break even? Financial ratios are the crux of determining the health of any business. You should have yours on the tips of your fingers.
- Deep Pockets - Starting a business or bringing a new product to market is not easy or cheap. It takes time, patience and change. Be prepared to burn a lot of money before seeing any real returns.
Once you are on top of the above list you are ready to compete. Remember though that the business landscape changes continuously. Be prepared to change your tactics, products, offerings accordingly.