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Business Startups

3 Posts authored by: Joel Comm

Business ideas are easy. Entrepreneurs can see a dozen opportunities a day if they keep their eyes open and their minds sharp. From parking a car to waiting in line at the coffee shop, anywhere there’s a difficulty or a problem there’s a solution waiting to be monetized.

 

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The challenge is turning that idea from concept to a service.

 

That takes planning. It takes time and it takes money, too. Coming up with an idea requires only a moment of inspiration. Building a business requires risk, effort and work.

So, when you’re full of good ideas, how can you tell which is the one that will bring you the most success? Which idea is worth making that investment?

 

Start with the traditional method: turn your business idea into a business plan.

 

In an age of pitch decks and Powerpoint presentations, that might sound old-fashioned. But creating a business plan, even if it’s only for yourself, forces you to take a hard, objective look at the product you want to create. It tells you what you’ll need to create it.

 

Of course, you’ll come away with an idea of the amount you’ll need to invest, and the sort of revenues it can bring in. But you’ll also come away with a deeper understanding of the product. The act of describing it will help you to understand what you can build and which features are unlikely to work in practice. And as you look at your market, you’ll come to see both its size and its make-up. Do the ideas include customers you want to spend time with? Are they people you want to help?

 

Once you’ve created a business plan, you might be able to begin work on the production. Someone hoping to open their own fashion boutique, for example, could start by creating a few pieces and seeing how they sell online or at fairs. Getting that feedback early would be better than investing in a complete store and hoping that people like it enough to tell their friends and return regularly.

 

Outlets like Etsy and Ebay offer easy ways to reach and test a market once the marketing is right. You can even create a Facebook page, start building followers, and use their comments to find out whether the interest you thought you’d generate is there.

 

There is a difference though between saying that a product is good and actually willing to part with cash for it. That’s why some businesses use crowdfunding sites not just to raise funds to pay for production but to market-test interest in their product. If people are willing to pay in advance to help a business create a product that they find interesting—whether that’s a new kind of drone or an origami folding kayak—that’s a great sign that that other people will pay to own it too.

 

The success of a crowdfunding campaign often has as much to do with the quality of the campaign as the product itself though, so again, you’ll have to put in effort to get a reliable result. But if you meet the threshold you’ll have both a proven idea and enough funds to get you at least past the first stage of production.

 

 

None of this will happen quickly. A business plan might take you a month or more to research properly and put together. Building a prototype and taking your first steps into the market could take you months more  and give you the kind of feedback you really didn’t want to hear. Even a crowdfunding campaign now relies on creating both a version of the product and shooting a professional-looking campaign video… then promoting both with press releases and on social media.

 

Which is why doing all of that brings you to the most important test of your business idea. If, after writing a business plan, building samples, and pitching to a market, you still love the idea and still believe you’ll enjoy creating it, you know you’ve picked a good idea.

 

If your business idea is fun to develop, your customers will have fun using it. That’s how you know you’ve found the right business idea.

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

The journey can look so long. When you’re sitting in your cubicle, counting down the hours until you can commute home, the distance from employee to entrepreneur can appear impossible to cross.

 

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It isn’t… and thousands of people make that journey successfully every year. According to the U.S.Chamber of Commerce, about 400,000 new businesses are started each year—and 70 percent of those businesses are still running two years later. Making the move from employee to entrepreneur requires just three steps.

 

They’re big steps, but there’s just three of them.

 

1.    Measure and Find the Money You Need

 

The first step is the most frightening. Starting a business always costs money. Whether you’re opening an online store or planning to set up a law firm, you’re going to have upfront costs. You’ll have office expenses and marketing expenses. You’ll need to buy supplies and equipment. You might have to pay for licenses and salaries. Some of those costs will be predictable. Others you’ll only be able to estimate.

 

The same is true of revenues. It might be a year or more before you see a return on your investments, and even longer before you break even. You’ll need to know how much money you’ll need to take you to that break-even point—and where you’re going to get it from. You’ll need to measure your savings, talk to the bank, and understand how much you’ll have to pay for any loans that you take.

 

Tackling the finances will be difficult, but it’s the first step towards taking control of your business life.

 

2.    Build a Routine

 

Money is one vital resource that every entrepreneur needs. The other is time. The two are related, of course. The more time you’re able to devote to your business, the more money you’ll spend but the sooner you’ll be able to turn the red ink black.

 

Ideally, you’ll be able to walk into your boss’s office, thrown down your resignation letter and head off to your own business to work full-time. In practice though, what usually happens is that small businesses start in spare hours. They’re built in the evenings and early mornings, and they take off at weekends when barbeques and sports games are sacrificed for semi-professional photography shoots and product launches.

 

There’s a benefit to that gradual approach. It means that by the time you’re ready to go full-time, you’ll already know what you’re doing. You’ll know which products your customers like most and which marketing channels work best. Moving to full-time business-building won’t mean hoping that your business idea succeeds; it will mean scaling an idea that’s already showing signs of promise.

 

Before you become a full-time entrepreneur, build a schedule around your day job. Make testing different parts of your business part of your routine so that you get the riskiest and toughest parts of being an entrepreneur out of the way before you take the jump.

 

 

3.    Enjoy the Process

 

There are always difficult moments when building a business. There will always be challenges and failures and frustrations. There will also be successes, achievements, and a great sense of pride. No one expects you to enjoy the times when launches fizzle or clients walk away but you should be able to enjoy the journey overall.

 

Employees have a steady income. They know exactly how much money they’re going to make each month. They know what they have to do to get their next raise, and they know the maximum they can expect to earn. If all you’re interested in is your finances, then you’ll find it easier to match your lifestyle to your income than to build a business to raise your earnings.

 

You don’t become an entrepreneur only to get rich. You build a business because you enjoy the process of building it. You know that you’ll love working for yourself, and you’ll have real fun putting it all together.

 

The last step is the most important: create a business plan that you’ll really enjoy implementing.

 

About Joel Comm

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 9.16.44 AM.png

As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

There’s one fundamental difference between an experienced business owner and an aspiring entrepreneur.

 

An experienced business owner knows the value of an idea.

 

They know an idea is worth… nothing. Not a dime. Even a good idea.

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That’s because ideas alone are easy. You probably have at least one every time you take a shower. The hot water goes on, you close your eyes, and immediately you have a vision of a product that will make you millions.

 

It happens to all of us, all the time.

 

But how many of those ideas have you built? How many of the ideas that have appeared to you in a flash while you were soaping up have become real products that you created and marketed? None, right?

 

That’s probably because none of those ideas came with a detailed production and marketing plan  you could follow step-by-step. They didn’t come with a skilled team already in place. And they certainly didn’t come with funding.

 

Ideas are easy. Implementation—that’s hard.

 

That’s why you have to choose your business ideas carefully. You can have a new idea every day but turning that idea into a business takes time, effort, energy and money. It might be a year or two before you really know whether that flash of inspiration really is a million-dollar spark or just the light bouncing off a soap bubble.

 

You have to learn to filter out the genuinely winning ideas from the concepts that will break apart at the first sign of pressure.

 

There are lots of different ways to do that. You can conduct market research to see how similar products or services are being received. You can bring together focus groups and ask people whether they’d buy what you want to make. You can even use crowdfunding sites to see whether people like your idea so much that they’re willing to pay for it in advance.

 

All of those methods have value. Some of them will be essential. (You can’t build a product without doing at least some market research.) But none of them is perfect.

 

Market research only tells you how similar products to your idea have performed. It won’t tell you how your idea will perform. Focus groups aren’t made of real customers holding their real, earned dollar bills, and people never know what they want until it’s right in front of them. Even crowdfunded projects that built an audience and raised funds haven’t always generated a product. Some have raised millions on the back of an idea that turned out to be impossible to build.

 

A wild idea? Good

 

There’s a better way to measure the potential in an idea.

 

You measure its wildness. Not just how wild the idea is, but how wild you feel about it.

 

The more enthusiasm you feel for an idea, the greater the likelihood that other people will feel the same way. Not all of them will feel as crazy about it as you but some will, and plenty of others will feel just enough enthusiasm to pay for it.

 

That’s not guaranteed, of course. When it comes to picking ideas, there are no guarantees for commercial success. But the depth of your enthusiasm is a reasonably good proxy for the market value of an idea.

 

And even if it isn’t, even if you’re nuts about a concept, spend a couple of years developing it, and find that it doesn’t fly, you’ll still have achieved something awesome.

 

You’ll have had fun.

 

You’ll have spent two years building a business that made you proud and that you enjoyed building.

 

That’s another sign of an experienced business owner. They understand that they can’t predict what will happen at the end of the production process. They know they can’t control what their customers do when the product is ready. But they do know that they can control what they do—and they can control whether they’re happy as they build their business.

As you’re reviewing the ideas you dream up in the shower, don’t pick the first one you thought of. Pick the last one you’re still thinking of.

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 9.16.44 AM.png

As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

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