Being ‘known’ as someone who encompasses an entrepreneurial spirit, I get asked constantly ‘I have a business idea, what should I do?’
Ideas are everywhere and execution is difficult.
I love it when people throw ideas around because it encourages creative thinking BUT it all comes to execution. As technology is transforming how we live, work and play, we need to train our minds to be agile so we can adapt to the changing environment.
Here are my top tips for those who are asking themselves about the fabulous ideas and are wanting to make them a reality.
1. Solve a problem
The first thing you need to do is know whose problem you are solving and pinpoint why you are doing this. I remember when I first came up with an idea for an app called CreATE, which allows restaurants to access market research data in exchange for charity donations. I met up with someone who had started a couple of businesses and he asked me what problem I was trying to solve. I was clueless. You need to know the problem you’re solving so that you create a solution for a need, not a want. The people who will buy your solution are your customers. Be customer focused.
what is the problem you are trying to solve
who has the problem you’re solving
2. Do research
The second tip is finding out as much information about your customer as possible. No idea is a new idea.
Stop trying to reinvent the wheel and do your research by:
Looking for customers and defining who your customers are. How do they see, think, feel, do? What makes someone become one of your customers?
Searching for competitors. Leverage your competitor’s information by seeking out their profile and using their content and research to quickly advance yours. What can you do to make it better?
Finding thought leaders. You may or may not be the expert in the field so start by picking up the phone and calling people you want to learn from. What do they offer? What do you offer? How can you build a partnership and help each other?
Conduct surveys and interviews. Ask quantitative questions using surveys and ask in depth questions which are qualitative. Group answers into themes so you’ll have a better scope of the problem. Is your problem really a problem, or will you pivot?
Start creating a tribe, a group of followers who are passionate and love your idea. Be the walking advertisement and recruit people to be on your team. One of the best ways to do this is to go to a hackathon and pitch your idea to a group of random people who are engaged in the startup community. The great thing about the community is that we are all here to help each other. Don’t keep your awesome idea to yourself, you need a group of people to help you make it happen. Also, don’t set your expectations high. Only a small percentage of people will create a business out of this. It is about the journey and invaluable experience you go through.
Hackathons International Facebook Group is a great place to start. It’s for people who have been to Hackathons and love them. Post your idea on there so that we can see what you're working on and can support you by giving feedback.
There’s something called an MVP - Minimum Viable Product. It is creating a product with minimal features, enough so that it can be sold. It doesn’t need to be a fully functional website, or an app which is available on the Apple Store or an IoT device. Its purpose is to test your market. Get people to sign up to your business by using Google Forms, sell your product by simply telling your customer to transfer funds to your bank account. If you can sell your MVP and have a paying customer, use those funds to advance your business. You will test and fail. It is normal and to be bluntly honest, having a startup is hard. A lot of the time I feel we idolise startup owners and assuming that every startup is ‘successful’.
The real test is going to a Hackathon
It's where you need to influence others to join your team, you're in a pressurized environment to deliver a Minimum Awesome Product, and you get to pitch to an expert judging panel. What more could you ask for?
With these 4 tips, hopefully you’ll have a better understanding of how to build up a business idea- although this is a very brief overview. How I learnt about these things was through all the Hackathons I have participated in, a lot of mentorship from Hackathons which I got connected with, as well as the informative and network sessions that Hackathons expose you to. The organisers have done the hard work and all you have to do is enjoy the experience. So do you have a business idea? Let's help you.
Angela Bee Chan