Turning your amazing business idea into a practical business plan might seem like a challenging task. Many people get stuck at this stage, feeling unsure if their idea is worth exploring, or what actions they should take next. At the other extreme, some people jump right in and start a business without any preparation or research
For the best chances of success, you’ll need to do some careful research, and then take action to develop a business plan. Here are the steps you should take to turn your idea into a business plan:
Find a need for something in the world, or in your community.
The best way to come across a business idea with potential is to find a gap in the market – something people need that doesn’t exist yet. Maybe it’s something that doesn’t exist anywhere yet, and everyone could benefit from. Alternatively, it could be a product or service that isn’t yet available in your community.
Don’t jump in too quickly
If you think you’ve found a great idea, don’t fall in love with it right away. Brainstorm the idea by writing down all of your thoughts. Be critical – look at the problems and limitations associated with the idea, and test out different options. Share your idea with friends and family who can give you feedback. Questions you might ask yourself include:
- What is the goal of the idea?
- Who is it for?
- What are the problems associated with it?
- What different paths could the idea take?
- Do you have any similar ideas that might be better? Can the idea be improved?
- What opportunities will the idea provide?
- What resources do you have – money, time etc.
Then, do some research:
If you’ve thought through your idea and decided that you still want to proceed with it, it’s time to do some more research. First, check that your idea is valid, then analyze the market to find out more about your potential customers and competitors. Here’s how to do it:
1. Find out if your idea is unique
A quick Internet search might be enough to find out that your idea is new or not. However, it still might work – perhaps the product or service you want to offer isn’t available in Africa, or you can think of a new way to make it stand out.
2. Do some market research for validation
Talk to customers in your target market to see if your idea will solve a problem or meet a demand. During this process, you will be able to find out exactly what your potential customers need, and confirm your target market. Now is the best time to find out if your idea needs adjusting or improving – before you’ve invested money developing it. Remember – it’s always best to create a product or service that meets a specific need.
3. Analyze the competition
As well as looking at what your customers want, you’ll need to find out what your competitors offer. Look at prices, services, and products. This is valuable for two reasons. Firstly, you can get good ideas from seeing how competitors run their businesses. Secondly, this insight also allows you to find ways of making your idea better than what is already on offer.
4. Speak to other entrepreneurs
The best advice comes from people with experience. Talk to people who have opened successful businesses or developed new products. Find out how they did it, get their advice, and ask for their feedback on your idea. Talking to local African entrepreneurs is especially useful, as you can find out what resources are available locally and what the market is really like.
Once you’ve collected all this information, you’ll be ready to develop a business plan.
Dealing with challenges
If you come across problems, don’t panic. At the stage where you are thinking through ideas, it’s common to meet obstacles. If your idea doesn’t turn out to be as good as you thought it would be, keep brainstorming. Write down any problems and come up with new solutions.
With some careful thinking, research, and advice from people with experience, you’ll soon be on the way to becoming a successful entrepreneur.