Think of a skill you tried to develop, be it business, sports, or personal. Initially, you improve at a rapid pace. Then your efforts slow down and your interest begins to fade. Eventually, no matter how much effort you put in, you just don’t seem to get better.
Think through all angles. Evaluate each opportunity like an investor in an objective, thorough and analytical way. Ask yourself: Who your customers are and what they need; how big the opportunity is and if the timing is right; how much time will it take for execution and will it be worth the effort and last, but not the least; what the business model is.
A rough business plan is a great way to ensure that you have covered all your bases. Here are some tips to make sure your business plan is comprehensive:
Find people who know the market, the business model, the competitors and predecessors. It is better to have people who have been there, done that, and can help you understand what works and what doesn’t in the real world. Talk to customers, to people in your core target market and find out what they think about your hypothesis. You’ll learn lots more once you get a product to market, but this initial research will increase your chances of setting out on the right path.
Respond to feedback
Make necessary changes to your business plan, product and go-to-market strategy. Run some numbers to get a sense of how much capital you’ll need to reach key milestones. Develop an implementation plan with your most important goals over the next few months and determine whom you need on your team to execute that plan.
Build a basic product
When you envision the product or service you ultimately want to offer, it probably has a slick design and a lot of features. Keep that ultimate vision on the back burner for now. Instead, strip the concept down to the bare minimum offering to address the needs of your core customers. Build that basic product as quickly and inexpensively as you can.
Many entrepreneurs are initially tempted to wait until they have a ‘perfect’ product to sell. But that is not a good strategy as you will be flying blind till your product enters the market. Make a core product that is good enough and get it to the market quickly.
Test what you’ve created
Once you have your product in the market, you can figure out how to match your offerings with customer needs. You can test elements such as pricing, branding, features, and customer experiences. Next, find a cost-effective, repeatable way to attract customers by experimenting with marketing messages, promotions, sales pitches and distribution channels. Measure the results and draw conclusions. Business analysis helps at all stages.
Once you learn what aspects of your product and marketing went wrong, you’ll want to fix them. But you would have gotten some things right too. So, you will want to leave them intact. To do both simultaneously, you’ll tweak or ‘pivot’ your approach.
Get ready to grow
Revisit your business plan and update your product, team, marketing, implementation and finance strategies. Gather resources you will need to expand. This is also a good time to raise capital.
It is time to expand once you have a market-tested plan and resources in place. Make sure your team knows and believes where you’re headed. Make sure that everyone understands what’s expected and that they have what they need to get it done. Good business management skills are an asset. Optimum business planning has to be made for entrepreneurial growth.