I’ve worked with many female entrepreneurs on business strategy. Most want to fall in love with their business idea before they actually put a stake in the ground. They keep the idea close to their chest, nurture and protect it like it is a newborn child. That’s all well and good, and there is a time for that at the beginning of the process. I’ve learned, however, that to be successful, you’ve got to be objective and not get married to any one idea.
Getting clear on what you really want to do is a process. This means it takes time, effort, and patience with yourself. Once you have clarity, the next step is to develop a strategy and action plan to bring your idea or dream into reality.
I’ve found it most helpful to use the six Ds to test the viability of your idea. Here’s how you can really see if your business idea has legs.
Develop your vision for your company
Think of the vision of your company as its foundation. Create a statement that is short, simple and specific. Here are a few questions to consider when developing your vision:
What are you passionate or really care about?
What is the purpose of your company?
What is the goal?
What does success look like in three to five years?
Narrow it down to two to three concise sentences and make sure it resonates with you.
Define your services or products
Make your services or product offering simple and clear. Ask yourself, what problem does my service or product solve? You do not need to boil the ocean, start with one or two core products. In fact, in the beginning stages of your business, it’s imperative to not go too wide. As your business grows, you can expand your offerings based on the needs of your market.
Your mantra: Differentiate. Focus. Execute. Refine. Repeat.
Determine your target market
Now that you have an amazing vision and product offering, it’s time to define who really needs it. Set up focus groups and ask them specific, open-ended questions. Ask friends, family and others you respect for feedback.
Develop a clear value proposition
A value proposition does not need to be complicated. Think of it as an elevator speech that anyone and everyone can understand. “MY COMPANY does X for Y so they can achieve Z.” “WE do it better and here’s WHY.”
Define your business model
People will ask: “What’s your business model?” What they want to know is how your business will make money. Get clear on how you plan to deliver your services/products, what you will charge, how you will acquire customers, and how much revenue and profit you expect to generate. Developing key partnerships is always a good idea as the right ones will help build momentum and help serve potential customers.
Develop your marketing strategy and sales plan
Your marketing strategy starts will building a consistent brand and message. This messaging will carry over to all communications, including the website and your social media presence. If you lack expertise in marketing, by all means, hire a consultant to help you!
Sales is about developing trusting relationships and offering win-win solutions. Look at who the most influential customers are in your target market and get to know them. Understand their problems, position a solution to meet their needs. They will tell you whether there is a fit, or not.
By going through these six steps, you’ll get a sense if your business idea has legs.
If it does, now the hard work begins. You gotta put your heart, body and soul into it. You gotta want it bad. You gotta commit. It will take blood, sweat, tears and lots of time. You gotta work it. You gotta remain flexible. You gotta ask for help. You gotta be willing to pivot.
And most importantly, you gotta stay the course, even when the terrain gets rocky.
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