According to Entrepreneur, building a business takes three key steps: Validate, Pivot, and Grow. Basically what they’re saying is that you need to make sure that a market actually exists for your product, you need to change the product as needed to ensure it’s as profitable as possible and then you need to market and sell that product like gangbusters.
It sounds relatively simple, right? Guess what. There is more to it than that. The idea is just the beginning…
Step One: Defining Your Market
We’re going to assume that you already know there is a market for your product idea. After all, most products are solutions to problems someone already has.
The question now, is how big is that market? The size and breadth of your market is going to determine everything from how much funding you’ll need to produce enough products to satiate your market’s appetite, to the storage space needed for your inventory and even to the type of marketing you should do.
There is all sorts of market research that you can do to figure out the exact size and makeup of your market. Spend some time on those surveys and research projects.
The more data you gather the better able you will be to figure out how to start building your company and making it profitable.
Step Two: Build Some Buzz
If you want to attract investors and funders for your project and business, you’re going to need to prove that you’re making/offering something people actually want.
The days of simply having a great idea and presenting it to an investor are over. Now you have to already have an audience if you want someone to give you their money.
The best and most cost efficient place to start building buzz for your product or service is the internet–more specifically, social media.
After you’ve got your website set up, make sure you set up your social media accounts–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, YouTube, Tumblr, all of it.
Now start posting to these spaces, but don’t just promote yourself. Remember the golden ratio: you’re trying to build community and buzz for you, not annoy people with your constant pitching.
Step Three: Baby Finance
After you’ve built up a solid following and fan base, it’s tempting to start making appointments with venture capitalists and angel investors.
Slow down! You’re not quite there yet. Before you take on these investors (which might mean handing them a stake in your company before you’re ready to give up your independence), do some crowdfunding.
Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, even Patreon are all great ways to get money for your project and prove to the fat wallets out there that ordinary people are willing to give you their hard earned money.
Many people have used Kickstarter to fund very lucrative projects from restaurants to games to musicianship. You might even be able to raise enough that you don’t need to take on investors.
You might find that you can bootstrap this baby yourself, and how great would that be?
Step Four: Taking it Public
You’ve built a following, you’ve successfully crowdfunded an initial push of your project. Now is a great time to start shopping your product around to “real world” retailers and build your own supply chain.
Now is when you start advertising and promoting yourself outside of your niche. This is when you look to complementary markets for partnerships and start buying air time on traditional media.
You want to spread the word as far and as wide as possible.
Keeping Everything Safe
Throughout this process it is very important to make sure that your business and website are secure. These days there is no such thing as too small a website or project.
Hackers will go after anybody, just because they can. As your project grows in popularity (which it will) that attention will only draw more of their interest.
This is why it’s also important to have someone dedicated to managing the IT of your business and keeping the bad guys out (and away from proprietary and client data).
For example, Firewall Technical, an Ottawa IT services company, specializes in what they call “Managed Firewall Service,” which monitors your servers and machines to make sure they stay safe and that any threats are dealt with quickly without any service interruption to you or your site’s viewers/shoppers.
Make no mistake, none of these steps are easy. They are hard and time consuming. But if you work at them, you might find that the big wallets come to you, instead of you begging for their help.
Of course, whether or not you accept their money is another subject for another time.