More than one entrepreneur has suddenly had a brainwave for a new business idea whilst sitting in the pub, talking to friends, or waiting in the morning commute. Often, the most surprising and creative ideas come when people least expect it – but how do you translate your brainwave into a viable business plan? It’s one thing coming up with a grand scheme to revolutionise a market, create an entire paradigm shift, or launch a slightly better version of a competitor product, but how do you go from beermat diagram to fully functional and operable business plan?
The first step lies in thinking through your ideas more thoroughly. Test them by carrying out market research. Double check first whether your idea is already out there or not. If it is, don’t lose heart. Is it IP or copyright protected? Can you produce something slightly better, that overtakes the existing offer?
You’ll then need to think about how you would develop your product or service and launch it to the market. Would you work from home around an existing job? Would you leave and launch into your new venture, working with overseas suppliers? Would you look for an investor and team to help create a small company from which to develop and launch your idea? These are crucial questions – organisational set up, funding, structure and delivery are critical. You’ll need to consider finances particularly carefully; do you have money in your savings to use, assets to mortgage against, or are you going to apply for funding or investment? Look at grants available for small businesses and look into business angel investment schemes if so.
Consider how you’ll take your product or service to market. Will it require innovation, physical development premises, product development processes, market testing, large rollout budgets, customer education? Or can you launch it with minimal outlay through existing channels and promote it through word of mouth and social media? Key questions such as these will challenge your business plan and develop it. At all stages, test your thinking and back it up with evidence.
It can be very useful to work with a business consultant when developing a business plan. Of course, you will be inundated with ‘free’ advice when you’re attempting to develop your business idea, but it’s important that you work with someone experienced and qualified enough to steer you in the right direction. You can do this by engaging the services of a consultant to work with you on a project basis, although this may be expensive. Alternatively, if you contact your local public-private funded business support organisation (there are many of these local economic partnerships around the UK), they will be able to advise on other services that may be suitable for your needs.
Those who can give qualified help for new business will include business angels for investment and guidance, mentoring for accessing the guidance of more experienced business people and coaching for people who need developing to a desired goal. Business advisors will also be able to give you guidance on services that might be of use, such as sales training, strategy planning courses, business to business networking events, coaching groups and more.