Like most people interested in online businesses, you probably read about successful startups all the time and wonder how you can turn your own brilliant ideas into a massively successful online business. As it turns out, getting from point A to point B is just as much a science as it is an art, and beyond the initial rush of a great idea, you will have to put in a lot of old-fashioned hard work.
Everything starts with an idea, and it will have to be a good one if you are to have chance of getting your business off the ground. However, ideas aren’t always that easy to come by, and even if you can churn out ideas by the dozens, there is no guarantee that any one of them will work.
Basic steps to consider when planning a startup
The fact of the matter is that ideas by themselves won’t get anywhere unless you put in the time and effort to see them through to fruition. The process may differ from person to person, but you can generally improve your chances of success by following a few basic protocols.
Decide on one idea and stick to it
Focus on as large a market as you can manage
Test out your idea in the real world
Execute your idea
Generating ideas is easy…or at least it is for many people. But where so many fail is in coming up with too many ideas and dispersing their focus. If you are to have a chance of succeeding, it would be best to narrow your list down to a few good ideas and then cut it down further into a single great idea. There simply isn’t enough time to waste on several lackluster ideas, and your efforts would be better served by devoting all your time and energy into one idea that you can really be passionate about.
Aim for as large a market as you can manage
There is simply no point in focusing on a small market. Even if you choose to specialize in a relatively narrow niche, always aim for as broad a potential market as you can manage. A good way to do this is by making an assessment of your idea, and figuring out whether or not it addresses the needs of a large group of people. By aiming for a large market right at the outset, you are already assuring that your business has plenty of room to grow, with no risk of exhausting the market any time soon.
Focus on a single product or service
Some of the most successful businesses have been built largely on the strength of a single product or service. However, this will have to be a really good one. But by doing so, you can more closely focus your efforts on developing this product or service, without the distraction of trying to juggle a huge inventory. This will also make it easier for you to adapt your focus to more closely suit the needs of a changing market, which can be virtually impossible if you have already committed to an entire range of products or services.
Focus on an idea that involves an absolute essential
There are a lot of products and services out there that might be nice to have, but aren’t absolutely essential. While you might be able to sell some of them, these generally do not make a good starting point for a business. What you want to focus on is an idea that involves a product or service that your customers will be compelled to buy. They have to get the impression that what you are offering is something that they absolutely cannot live without.
One good example is Stripe. This is a service that makes it easy for companies to accept credit cards transactions on the web. Since more and more people are making purchases on the Internet nowadays, this service is absolutely essential for any online business to compete. By going after a huge potential market and offering an absolutely indispensible service, something like Stripe has a good chance of being a success.
Use free publicity to your advantage
Don’t neglect the benefits provided by media in terms of promotion. One of the best ways to utilize this medium is by publishing an industry report detailing the current state of the industry in which you wish to be a part. You would be surprised at how much promotional mileage you can get by being featured in even free promotional avenues. In some cases, it might even make your startup seem bigger and more impressive than it actually is.
Try out your idea in the real world
The only surefire way to determine whether or not your idea works is to try it out in the real world, which means that you will have to run it by some actual customers at some point. While there is something to be said about putting together a business plan with projections based on market research, that method is nowhere near as effective as getting real-world feedback from customers that have actually used your product or service. This could be something as simple as a PowerPoint presentation, or even simply a landing page that your customers can check out.
The point is to provide them with something that will clearly illustrate what your product or services is all about, so that they can make an accurate assessment of its value. This will help you determine if there are aspects of your plan that will need to be revised or discarded, and what kind of reception you can expect from the public once you release your product or service.