In our increasingly complex and ambiguous world we work in, generating new business ideas that can result in a scalable sales growth needs to be an ongoing process. Once you have an established business, you to constantly innovate and incorporate new business ideas to continue growth and to offset any drop in sales of products or services that have fallen out of favour. This article is about the key steps needed to ensure the success of your new business ideas.
Here are the ten steps to getting ideas to generate sales:
- passion and purpose
- mind mapping
- act like a start-up
- be good at what you do
- keep account
- personal effectiveness
What does it mean in more detail?
- Passion & Purpose. Whether your business ideas are about starting a new business, growing a business on the back of another one, or simply launching a new product or service on the back of an existing business, you need to be passionate about it and they need to fit your overall purpose of what you and your business are about. If in don’t go on to Google and watch Simon Sinek and “Start with WHY”. Your employees and customers need to be able to share in that passion otherwise why should they buy from you, you will be just the same as your competitors in the market place.
- Research. Whatever your next business idea is it needs add value to your customer. It needs to be make a difference whether to solve a customer’s problem or give them something that they desire. Research your idea as much as you can before committing any expenditure. If you can, buy from your competitors. How do they market the product or service? What messages do they use? How competitive is the market place?
- Mind Mapping. I am a big fan of mind mapping as it allows you to capture all the key concepts on-page and if everybody involved in the project is involved in its development then it is a great document to capture the necessary complexity of developing a business idea.
- Act Like a Start-Up. I work with non-funded and funded start-ups, with small companies looking to grow larger and medium-sized companies looking to go to the next stage. When somebody has no money but a strong desire to achieve something then inevitably it happens and it is usually in tune with what the market place wants because during its evolution the business has had to develop a simple product or service that it can test the market and generate cash. This provides a really strong focus on the project and makes sure any investment isn’t wasted. It’s true too little initial investment can destroy an idea but too much and generally the additional funding gets wasted and the project loses focus. Look up the book, “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries on how to apply agile to your business idea.
- Be Good at What You Do. You have the passion which is linked to a common purpose with what your customers want. Now you or your team need to become experts in it. Your prospects are not going to buy from you unless they believe you really can deliver. If you want to gain traction on social media then you need social proof and social proof only comes from doing an outstanding job for your customers. Mediocre will no longer cut it.
- Bootstrap. It can feel very liberating to throw in your job or ignore the cash-generating side of a business because business as normal gets boring. I often work with companies to bootstrap another business idea off an existing cash-generating business that can’t grow any further or is in decline due to changing customer needs. Likewise, with non-funded start-ups, they need to try to maintain some income to pay the rent, keep food on the table and support the new business venture.
- Keeping Account. Cash is King, or so the saying goes. If you are trying to launch a new business idea whether as a start-up or as an existing business, keeping good accounts is absolutely essential. For a start-up, it’s all about knowing how much cash you are burning through each month (burn rate). For an established business, especially in the UK, it’s about recording expenses to be claimed back as an R&D tax credit.
- Personal Effectiveness. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey provides a useful framework to develop those skills that will help you become successful. As you grow your business you will need to develop Level 5 leadership skills as described by Jim Collins in the book Good to Great. If you Google, “Transformation Leadership” there are lots of articles and images which summarise what you need to achieve.
- Scalability. How well does your idea scale? Is it dependent on you? Can you employ other people to deliver it? Think very carefully when you are designing your product or service. Can it be produced or delivered through other people? (They don’t need to be employees by the way, there are different operating business models out there.)
- Metrics. As Peter Drucker is famous for quoting, “What Gets Measured, Gets Done”. In the digital age, this is true as it is a lot easier due to the ubiquitous nature of technology. Keep your metrics few and simple but take time to think them through. The idea being measuring what you do is to get to your goals faster through working smarter and knowing when you have got there. Keep key metrics to 3 or 4 that can easily be measured on a regular basis that captures the return you are looking for your time and money.
So in summary, having great business ideas is the fuel that will drive your business forward whatever stage you are at. However, it takes a disciplined approach to make sure that you achieve your goals in the shortest possible time. Hopefully, this article will have given you ideas on how you can achieve your goals whether you are a start-up, micro, small or medium-sized business.
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