Set Phasers To Launch: Here’s How To Get Your Idea Off The Ground

entrepreneur

Divide Your Strategy Into Three Phases To Organize Your Creative Process

Entrepreneurs share one vital, indispensable trait: innovation. An entrepreneur is an inventor, a trend-setter, and an influential creator of new, profitable ideas.

As important as this creative process is to business development and startups, ideas can only take an inventor so far. The key to truly turning a profit is  strategic planning and preparation.

Phase One: Market Evaluation

This first phase focuses on defining the scope of your idea and comparing it to consumer demand. Good questions to ask during phase one would be:

  • Who would use my product or service?

Are you selling to other businesses or directly to consumers? Is there a specific age group you’re targeting? Is your product or service gender-specific? Who is your ideal customer?

  • What does my competition look like?

If you Google your product or service, are you hit with a couple hundred pages filled with other offerings like yours? What advantages do you have over the competition? Where are they stronger?

  • Where do I want to launch my product?

Are you selling seasonal items, such as produce, outdoor items, or weather-specific apparel? Are your customers primarily city-dwellers or farm owners? Are certain areas of the country more likely to purchase your product based on geographic location alone?

  • When would be the best time to launch?

Are your customers more likely to buy your product or service during the holidays? Can you benefit from launching near financial peaks, such as month-end or end-of-year?

  • How should I sell my product?

Do your consumers prefer face-to-face purchasing experiences, such as farmer’s markets or boutiques? Can you generate more sales by moving your marketplace online? Are shipping costs overridden by larger client volumes?

Phase Two: Forming Framework

Once you’ve identified your market and verified the profitability of your idea, it’s time to develop your framework and financial feasibility. Here’s what you should start with:

  • Build a solid team

Even a self-employed, single-person business can benefit from a team of like-minded specialists. A copywriter, for example, can deliver an all-inclusive, valuable packaged pitch when strategically paired with a graphic designer. Restaurant owners gain a significant advantage over their competition when they form direct relationships with local food producers and media personalities.

  • Assess your financial need and overhead costs.

Determine how much money you can budget for your product launch. Walk yourself through the product or service from start to finish. Are you creating your product yourself or will you have supplier costs? Where will the product be housed? Do you need to purchase inventory? Will you have a website and will you need a credit card module or payment processing system?

Realistically and honestly assess how much it will cost to get your product off the ground.

  • Estimate your ROI

When can you expect to make a profit? How much can you expect to make? Look at other businesses in your arena and reach out to others in your field. How long did it take to generate revenue? Give yourself enough time to reasonably establish your product or service, but set a solid goal to keep motivation levels high and energy moving forward.

Phase Three: Launch Rehearsal

You’ve done your research and determined your idea is profitable and financially feasible. Your startup requirements are in place and you’re ready to dip your toe in the water. It’s time to set up your go-live!

  • Build your team management strategies

Identify possible launch roadblocks or undesired outcomes and develop a systematic resolution system. Ensure all delegations are clear and responsibilities outlined in detail. Encourage flexibility, but be sure all team members are aware of absolute boundaries; a sales clerk, for example, may have a customer ask for a free sample of your new product.

Coach your team on how flexible they can be without sacrificing the end goal of the launch, which is normally to generate a profit.

Spread the word far and wide—a new product is coming! Announce your launch date and generate excitement by attending local events with flyers, handing out samples, and posting on social media sites. Consider giving the new service or product away to a select group of consumers to generate useful feedback. Organize a “coming soon” event with freebies, food, and valuable information about your business.

  • Perfect your product

Listen to pre-launch consumer feedback. Create an improvement team to carry you through the go-live and act like a finger on the pulse of product popularity. Tweak your product when applicable, but remember to stay focused on your original goal. It’s easy to listen to feedback and want to branch out into a million directions. Stay the course. Focus on attainable improvements and think with the end in mind.

Ideas are plentiful, but well-executed, profitable innovations are much harder to come by. Take your idea from invention to execution by engineering a detailed preparation plan.

The first step is often the most difficult to take, but without it, your journey has ended before it’s even begun. Scale the staircase by planning your steps one by one. Your idea will become a reality before you know it!

Image: iStockphoto

About The Author

Jennifer Ludwigsen is a freelance writer with a colorful variety of skills gained from her time as a U.S. Army medic, mother of two, and ingenious life-lesson learner. She currently works for the largest medical group in Illinois in multiple administrative capacities, serving both the executive team and the vast practitioner and patient population. Jennifer has leveraged technology in multiple facets of her life to enhance her corporate day job, evening parenting job, and late-evening freelancing job. Connect with Jennifer on TwitterLinkedIn, and her website, Concentrated Creativity.