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By Mike Kappel
As the very successful Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” And as a successful entrepreneur myself, I can confirm that you can make your dreams come true if you set your mind to it, persevere, and give it all you got. But, making your business idea a reality doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, patience, and a ton of hard work.
So, how do you make your business idea and dream come to life? Let me walk you through it.
Got a solid idea for a product or service? Awesome. Now it’s time to get going and make your idea a reality. But in order to do that, you have to be willing to put in some legwork. To get your idea off the ground and help your business dream come true, start with these seven steps:
1. Do your research
When trying to bring your business idea to life, start by doing some research. Look at:
- The market
- Potential competitors
- Your audience
Your product or service won’t get off the ground if there isn’t a viable market for it. So, take some time to really dig in, research, and find out if your idea is sound. To help with this process, consider also doing a SWOT analysis to analyze strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your business idea.
2. Narrow down your target audience
I mentioned your audience earlier, and I’m going to mention it again. Why? Because pinpointing the right target audience for your startup can make or break your business’s success. So if you want your idea to work, narrow down your target audience.
To find the ideal audience for your idea, you can:
- Conduct a market analysis
- Create customer personas
- Analyze competitors
- Look for trends
- Conduct surveys
- Collect demographic data
- Consider psychographics (e.g., values, hobbies, etc.)
You can’t try to sell your service or product to everyone under the sun. It’s not realistic because not everyone is going to have a want or need for what you’re planning on offering. Also, people have different pain points. So, find your ideal customer who would want to buy from you and narrow down your audience as much as possible.
After you get a good idea of whom you want to target, it will become easier and easier to determine next steps, such as marketing strategies.
3. Establish a financial game plan
Unless you’ve found a way to grow money on trees, chances are you’ll need some type of funding to support your entrepreneurial dream. In fact, less than half (48%) of small businesses have their financing needs met. To make your dreams come true and get the funding you need, establish a financial game plan.
Before you can set your dream in motion, you need to have a good idea on how you plan to finance said dream. Luckily, owners have a lot of business funding options, including small business loans, lines of credit, and investors.
When planning, you should also get a good idea of how much you’re going to be spending by forecasting future finances and keeping expenses in mind.
The more prepared you are financially, the easier it will be to get your business off the ground and sustain it for years to come. Not to mention, going in while being financially unprepared can cause you to become one of the 38% of businesses that fail because they run out of cash or fail to raise new capital (yikes!).
4. Write up a business plan
Along with financial planning comes an even bigger plan: your business plan. Your business plan is like a road map for your company. It details every little thing about your business, from funding to marketing. And it should answer a variety of questions about your business, like what problems your solution will solve and whom you want to target.
Your business plan can help you further understand your market, obtain outside funding from lenders and investors, and strategize your company’s future. So, what all should you cover in your business plan? Include the following sections:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Organization and management
- Service or product line
- Marketing and sales
- Financial projections
Not sure how much to include in your plan? The general rule of thumb is the more details the merrier. But, don’t go overboard when it comes to text. Make your plan easy to read and digest by spacing out text, using bullet points, and including images (e.g., charts and tables).
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5. Test your idea
Prior to taking some bigger steps, like registering your business, make sure your idea works. And what better way to do that than test it out?
Whether you have a service or product, you need to test it before officially launching your business. Otherwise, you can wind up with disgruntled customers. Or worse, no customers at all.
Testing your idea before fully investing in it can give you insight on any changes you need to make and the longevity of your idea. To test out your product or service, you can ask family or friends for feedback, interview your target market, or conduct focus groups.
Conducting testing allows you to get honest feedback about your idea without fully committing to it. You then can use that feedback to make improvements to your product or service before you unveil it to the world.
6. Set reachable goals
Another big aspect of running a business is setting goals. And when you’re chasing after your entrepreneurial dream, you need to set goals to help stay on track and motivate yourself.
When it comes to setting goals, be realistic. Set reachable goals that you can actually obtain within a reasonable time frame. Not ones that are nearly impossible to achieve, especially as a new business owner.
Consider using SMART goals, or specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals. That way, you can outline your goals and ensure you don’t miss any important details.
Here are some examples of goals you can set for yourself while making your business idea a reality:
- Get feedback from X friends and family.
- Secure funding by the end of the year.
- Get X customers by quarter 3.
7. Take action
Again, making your business idea a reality doesn’t happen within a few hours, days, or even weeks. It takes time and baby steps. But once you’re ready to dive in and have prepared everything (hint, hint: steps 1-6), you can begin to take action.
After you get your ducks in a row with your business plan, target market, etc., you can start taking action in other areas, such as:
- Registering your business
- Securing a location
- Building your website
- Hiring employees
- Choosing an accounting method
- Setting up payroll if you have employees
Making your business idea a reality is a step-by-step process
All of these steps can seem intimidating, but trust me, they’re oh-so worth it in the end.
Don’t be scared off by your big to-do list. Instead, take it one day at a time, and slowly but surely you can turn your business idea into a reality.
About the Author
Mike Kappel is the founder and CEO of Patriot Software, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business that offers cloud-based accounting and payroll software for American businesses and their accountants. Follow Patriot Software on Twitter @PatriotSoftware.
This article was originally published on AllBusiness.com.