If you’re nurturing a big idea we know just how hard it can be to move that idea from a concept to a justifiable reality. So, whether you’re starting from the beginning or nearing the finish line, this article will provide insight and resources to support your journey.
From researching and validating your business idea to creating a plan and adapting to change, this article will cover many different topics that will help you grow your business. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can set yourself up for success and turn your idea into a thriving business.
The Importance of Turning Ideas into Reality
We all have great ideas from time to time—a new product that could revolutionize an industry, a service that could solve a common problem, or a business model that could disrupt a market. But unfortunately, most of these ideas never make it beyond the brainstorming stage.
There are several roadblocks that can prevent an idea from becoming a reality:
- Lack of resources
- Lack of expertise or knowledge
- Lack of focus or motivation
- Lack of support or funding
However, with the right tools and mindset, it is possible to overcome these roadblocks and turn an idea into a reality.
Six Steps to Turn Your Idea Into a Business
Turning an idea into a scalable business is no small feat. These steps are designed to help founders navigate the process with a seamless and direct approach. This framework consists of six steps: Vet your idea, research, plan, execute, adapt, and grow.
Try it out yourself
Download this worksheet from Wilbur Labs to follow along with the steps below and turn your idea into a business!
Step 1: Vet your idea
Before you start investing time and resources into an idea, it’s important to validate that it is worth pursuing. By thoroughly evaluating your concept, you can determine its potential for success and identify any areas that need further development. Here are some key questions to consider when vetting your idea:
Are you solving a large problem?
It is important to identify a problem that is significant and affects a large number of people. This will increase the potential market for your product or service and make it more likely to be successful.
Are you building a sustainable business?
It is important to consider whether your business model is sustainable in the long term. This can involve analyzing your revenue streams, costs, and potential for growth.
Are you uniquely positioned to solve this problem?
It is important to consider whether you have the skills, expertise, or resources to effectively solve the problem you have identified. If there are already other businesses addressing this problem, it is important to consider how you will differentiate your offering and provide value to customers.
By carefully considering these questions and conducting thorough research, you can determine whether your idea has the potential to be a successful and sustainable business.
Step 2: Research
Research is crucial for understanding your market, your competitors, and your customers. When researching your business idea, it is important to gather a wide range of information from multiple sources. Start by conducting primary research to gather first-hand insights about your target market, competitors, and industry.
Primary research can take many forms:
- Focus groups
- Interviews with potential customers
- Advice from industry experts, providing valuable insights and perspective on your business concept
- Attending networking events, trade shows, and other industry specific events
Secondary research, although less detailed by nature, can also play an essential role in your research:
- Gathering industry trends
- Evaluating available and published data
- Analyzing well established facts regarding your business idea
Additionally, gathering customer feedback and insights is crucial to understanding the needs and preferences of your target audience. This can be done through online reviews, social media, or in-person conversations with customers. By following these steps and gathering a diverse range of information, you can validate your business idea.
Step 3: Plan
With a solid foundation of research, it’s time to start planning how to bring your idea to life. Planning your business idea involves evaluating the feasibility and potential success of your concept, developing a roadmap for bringing your product or service to market, and creating a financial model to understand the costs and potential profits of your business.
Concept Evaluation: It is important to carefully evaluate the potential of your business concept to ensure that it is viable and has the potential to be successful. Start by researching your target market, analyzing the competition, and assessing the potential demand for your product or service.
Product Roadmap: A product roadmap outlines the steps and milestones involved in bringing your product or service to market. This can include identifying key features, determining the target market, and establishing a timeline for development and launch.
Financial Model: A financial model helps you understand the costs and potential profits of your business. Delve into creating a budget, forecasting sales, and analyzing the potential return on investment.
Startup Checklist: A startup checklist is a helpful tool for organizing and prioritizing the tasks involved in launching a business. Begin with establishing a business structure, creating a marketing plan, and obtaining necessary licenses and permits.
Step 4: Execute
Now it’s time to start building! Executing your business idea involves focusing on high impact activities, following your plan, hiring the right team, and securing funding as needed.
Prioritize High Impact Activities: Tasks such as building a strong team, developing a solid product or service offering, and establishing a strong brand presence are all high impact activities. Better prioritize these tasks by:
- Creating a task list (no matter how big or small the task is)
- Adopt a task prioritization method
- Use a calendar tool to schedule your tasks
- Communicate task progress with your team/support groups
Follow the Plan: A well-thought-out plan can help guide your actions and ensure that you stay on track. Stick to your plan and make adjustments as needed to ensure that you are making progress towards your goals. Create a written plan that you can share out and refer back to when assessing your progress.
Hiring: Building a strong team is crucial for the success of any business. It is important to hire the right people for the right roles, and to ensure that your team has the skills and expertise needed to support the growth of your business. Find quality hires by:
- Be clear (and realistic) about what you’re looking for
- Get creative with where you source talent
- Don’t sacrifice quality for speed
- Prioritize compatibility
Funding: Securing funding can involve seeking investment from venture capital firms, applying for grants or loans, or crowdfunding. It is important to carefully consider your funding options and choose the option that is best suited to your needs. You can view all Cincinnati funding resources on our Resource Compass.
Step 5: Adapt
No plan is perfect, and it’s important to be open to adapting and iterating as you progress through the process of bringing your idea to reality. Adapting your business is crucial for long-term success, as the market and customer needs are constantly changing. Here are some key strategies for adapting your business:
Don’t Build in a Silo: Stay connected with your customers, industry experts, and other stakeholders to ensure that you are aware of changing trends and needs. Conduct market research, seek feedback, and stay up-to-date with industry news along the way.
Pivot Quickly: If your business concept is not working as planned, you need to be agile and pivot quickly in a new direction. Embrace making changes to your product or service offering, target market, or business model.
Tackle One Challenge at a Time: When faced with challenges, focus on tackling one issue at a time and tap into your resources. This can help you stay organized and avoid becoming overwhelmed.
Learn from Others: Seek out examples of businesses that have successfully adapted to changing market conditions, and learn from their experiences.
Step 6: Grow
Once you’ve successfully brought your idea to market, it’s time to start thinking about growth. Growing your business involves considering the challenges ahead, developing the necessary skills, staying informed about competitors, and learning from past mistakes.
What challenges lay ahead? As your business grows, you will likely face new challenges and obstacles. Be aware of these common challenges as you grow your business:
- Fierce competition
- Success does not come alone, rely on your support resources
- Hiring the right candidates for your progress
- Partnership decision making
- Financial management
- Winning the trust of your customers
Anticipate these challenges and have a plan in place for how to overcome them.
What skills do you need to grow alongside your business? As your business grows, you may need to develop new skills to support its growth. This can include financial management skills, marketing and sales expertise, or technical skills related to your product or service offering.
What are competitors doing? Stay informed with your competitors and how they are positioning themselves in the market. This can help you stay ahead of the competition and identify opportunities for differentiation. Check in with your competitors by:
- Monitoring their online presence
- Checking their pricing pages
- Reading their reviews
What mistakes have you made and how can you avoid them in the future? Reflect on your own past mistakes, and the missteps of your competitors. This will improve your decision-making processes and save you time and money.
From Dream to Reality: The Inspiring Story of Manny Ado and Natural Shea Care
Manny Ado is the founder of Natural Shea Care, a skincare business that sells all-natural shea butter, lotion, and black soap products. Ado was born and raised in Ghana in West Africa and later moved to the United States to attend college at Xavier University in Cincinnati. After graduation, Ado worked for several large companies before deciding to start his own business. Natural Shea Care’s products stand out from competitors due to their easy application, as they are whipped to a soft consistency. The company’s products can be found on their website and in 335 Kroger stores across Greater Cincinnati. In addition to providing high-quality skincare products, Natural Shea Care also has a social mission. The company sources its raw materials from disadvantaged women in Ghana, providing them with steady jobs and fair wages. Natural Shea Care also donates 5% of its sales to a community development fund in Ghana, which helps to reduce poverty and improve working conditions.
This content is adapted from the Idea to Reality workshop put on by Phil Santoro and Wilbur Labs during StartupCincy Week 2022. To view the entire workshop, click here.
A special thank you to Jeremy Fritzhand for authoring this article. Alloy Development Co. is a one-stop-shop for organizations, businesses, and communities looking to grow and succeed. With a combination of commercial capital lending, a growth lab for startups, and expertise in economic development, Alloy is an active and influential business partner that can assist organizations at any stage of growth with the resources they need to succeed.