Does your business idea solve a problem?
This is the key question to ask, but be creative in defining the problem. Coyo is a vegan, refined sugar-free yogurt made from coconut cream. It is good for you because of its natural ingredients and probiotic cultures, and it is entirely guilt-free, which appeals to health-conscious consumers. It solves a problem for those seeking a healthy breakfast or desert option and helps stockists such as Waitrose and Tesco to appear smart to savvy shoppers.
Have you identified your target market?
Escape the City does not just target men and women aged 23-30, its audience comprises discontented City professionals, itching to jump corporate ship in favour of an entrepreneurial opportunity. They read stories featuring on the website from those who have already ‘escaped’, browse job opportunities, usually offering junior but nevertheless exciting roles and connect with each other. In addition, companies advertise on Escape the City because they want to find bright, ambitious, City-trained, hardworking candidates for their vacancies.
Think about your target market in terms of their emotional needs and how will your product or service make them feel: happy, powerful, intelligent, belonging, twenty-first-century, snug, worthy, ready to climb any mountain in the world…
When you shared your business idea with friends or perfect strangers, did their eyes lighten up?
Did they yell: “Where do I sign up?!” Did they get so excited, you could not shut them up about your own product or service? When you get that sort of reaction, you know you are onto something. If your friends are keen to change the topic of the conversation and strangers mumble something polite in response, perhaps your idea is not so hot, especially if you asked people from your perceived target market. My point is: you have to identify potential buyers and test the idea on them before you spend too much time (and money) on something no one actually needs…
Richard Branson launched Virgin Galactic, promising to take tourists to space for $250,000 a flight. It has not been done before, and the service is yet to launch, yet back in September 2013 he had already sold 700 tickets to people who were so excited about the prospect, they paid up well in advance.
Are you excited about running this business?
It seems like an obvious question, but it is not at all. A friend of mine told me about his idea to open a coffee shop, which sounded brilliant. I asked him if he would be running it but the prospect did not appeal to him in the slightest. If you are not passionate about the execution of your idea, how do you expect to be living it 24/7 (for it will be that), tackle challenges (for there will be plenty), be willing to learn and tweak and make it successful (for you may have to go through a couple of reincarnations before you get it right)?
My friend Lili loves yoga and she loves cycling. She also likes teaching and is very passionate about helping people to get fit in a holistic environment. Lili coaches yoga and cycling individually and in small groups. It really helps when you put yourself into your business idea.
Finally, you really have to give it a go, which is super simple, given modern technology. You could set up a Facebook page or a Twitter account, describing your product / service, starting a conversation and offering people interested in its launch to sign up to your newsletter. You will see very quickly how much interest there is and what are the questions your potential clients ask.
Let’s say you want to open a women-only Cross Fit gym in London. Before you start scouting for premises, use social media to see if there are any women out there who love Cross Fit but would indeed prefer to train without boys around. If such a thing already exists, how can you stand out vis-a-vis your competitor? It may be something as simple as opening a gym in a different part of town or adding a cool protein shake bar.
If you found it useful, please pass it on. We need more targeted, problem-solving, exciting businesses around, but personally I can live without ‘new’ ideas such as this (no offence).