8 Questions to ask your Business Idea

Its official…2013 is the year of the entrepreneur. If no one else is declaring it, I am. I meet so many people courtesy of my job who are no longer satisfied with just answering to their line manager or following a strict job description. More people want to express themselves doing what they love and enjoy.

So if you are thinking of taking a step towards maximizing your passion or start a business. I have got a few questions you should ask your idea?

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 1. Does your product or service add value?
More people can now see beyond a good idea. If you want to compete with others in the marketplace, then you will need more than nice packaging and a good website. Your product or service should add value to the lives of your target market and readily make a difference once they make a purchase.

 2. Who will buy your product or service?
I made this mistake a few times when I started out in business. As soon as I thought of a good idea, I plunged it right on my website. When people did not buy the service, I got a hump. What I failed to see then was that a good business idea in my eye won’t translate to sales if my target market don’t need it. Take time to discover your target market and their needs. Then develop products and services that meet their specific needs – you will have a better chance of making a sale.

 3. Is your industry a saturated market?
If you are considering a product or service in a highly saturated market, you should be ready to fight to survive. You will also need more that a Unique Selling Point as you can be sure as day that as soon as you launch your idea, someone is going to be on your heel. So analyse your product’s benefits in-depth and find specific and unusual ways to make it stand out.

4. Is there a rise or decline in demand for your product or service?
Is there really any point in bringing to the market a product that is on the decline? If your idea has been waiting on the back burner for many years, is now the time to finally ‘Bring it to Life’? I believe in passion but passion and good business sense go hand in hand. You might need to go back to the drawing board and redesign or redefine your products or services.

5. How will technology advancement or other factors affect your business?
Sadly many businesses have gone into administration recently, I am sure they tried to move with the times but some are not just fast-paced enough to catch up. With the speed of technology development nowadays, the adage “you snooze, you lose” is so appropriate. How long can your products/services last on the market before something new comes along? What are your plans to keep up demands for products or services? Good questions to ask yourself if you are considering a long-term business.

6. Is there room for development or modification to meet new demands?
If you are designing a product or service, you should factor in room for improvement. In five years time, what modifications can you add to your products or what further benefits can your services provide? Have you got another version/better specification model to follow? It is important that you design your products/services with the future in mind so you can keep supplying those who need what you offer.

 7. What are the established businesses in your proposed market doing?
Carry out some research to find out what the big players in your industry have got up their sleeves. What is their next business step, what products do they have in the pipeline? Preempt their next moves and brainstorm their ideas to see if they can give birth to new ideas for your business?

This is totally random but I love this post on Entrepreneur.com ‘The secret of what makes a product go viral’ 

 8. How do you see your product or service developing in the next five years?
Even though most business owners would say they have a five-year plan, the plan can only be at the very best – a plan. If all the variables remain constant, maybe then maybe we can achieve our five years goals. You should always consider various options for your business development at any given time including an exit strategy.

Maybe now is the time to get your business idea or product development off the back-burner and start taking actions to bring it to market. But before you sign the office lease, send out the new product flyers and order the equipment, in-depth market research can never go amiss before a start-up/new development. Consider your options, analyse your answers, if you need to change your game plan, by all means do that but do not stand on the sideline and watch the world go by.

Get a bit of the action! The world is waiting for your business idea to blossom.

Need help discovering your passion, developing your idea, setting up your own business or brainstorming roadblocks in your existing business? Then contact me and let’s explore your options together.

I wish you good success.
Temi Koleowo

Fear – A Business Startup Roadblock

Have you been trying to start a business for a while? You have got the idea, you know your target market but somehow you haven’t been able to step out and just do it.

JUST DO IT
I know ‘just do it’ is a clique we have all heard so many times especially since Nike made it such a famous slogan. This is one of the tools I use for my own mind battles. When I see that I am starting to flag in certain areas, I tell myself “Just Do It!”
It is important that you take time to identify what is stopping you from starting out. Find out what your roadblocks are so you can find ways to get rid of them. In this blog, I want to highlight one of the roadblocks I had to battle to start my business a few years ago.

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FEAR
Yes, I said it… FEAR!!!!. Fear is a huge factor to battle when it comes to starting something new. There is always a nagging thought at the back of one’s mind telling you that you are bound to fail. Fear of failure plagues even the most successful business owners, they just learn to push pass it and do it anyway. If you are a master planner like I used to be, who likes a predictable life then it can be such an uphill struggle to launch into the unknown.  I had a constant tug-of-war with fear which I eventually won and was able to do what I wanted to do.

One of my favourite quotes is by Ambrose Redmoon which states “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”  If I do not maximise my passion now, then when?

1092344_fear zithericaFEAR is a natural emotion and you are permitted to feel fear, but it is what you do with the feeling that makes all the difference. I have stood on podiums to deliver workshops with fear. I have approached clients that I thought were way out of my league with fear. In these circumstances I have won both my internal and external battles by learning to feel the fear and do it anyway!

MAKE A LIST
I want you to think of what you are afraid of. Make a list of the things that scare you about starting your own business. Do you think you will not be able to pull it through, is it lack of knowledge, losing a source of income, lack of self-confidence or self-belief?
Then ask yourself “what is the worst that can happen?” Once you know that, find ways to minimise those risks and take action.

 FACE YOUR FEAR
Once you can identify what you are afraid of then you are half way there. Let’s look at ways to deal with them. Unfortunately unlike traffic cones that cause roadblocks in the middle of the road, you can’t just lift and discard them. You have to think of ways to minimise the effect of the fear by seeking its antidote.

For example: If your fear is lack of knowledge in a business area, research on how you can increase your knowledge. Will dedicated learning about your industry one hour a day, three times a week boost your confidence? If you can find a mentor in that industry, will it make a difference?
If you need a regular source of income to survive, don’t quit your job just yet. Start gradually – moonlight if you have to, to get things off the ground. Then once you establish your business with regular revenue, you can start writing your own pay cheques.

Rather than allow fear to paralyse you into inactivity, remove the cobwebs that hold you bound and take small steps to begin to eliminate the NOs in your life.

I wish you good success mixed with God’s blessings

Temi Koleowo.

I am here to help you unlock the potential of your passion, develop your idea into a concept you will love and enjoy.  Visit us at www.businessfirststeps.co.uk

Photos from sxc.hu.

How Do You Measure Success?

I delivered a workshop at a Youth Entrepreneur Conference on the 24th of February 2013 on “How to Bring your Business Idea to Life”. It was a great conference with so much “Can-Do” energy. I was intrigued by a question a young man asked me. He asked “what is your definition of success?”

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That question got me thinking for a while about what success truly is. Most of us want the finer things in life – in varying quantities. Are we willing to sacrifice that inner deep emotional need for fulfilment for these other things money can buy? My answer to this young man was “success means different things to different people”.  To some of us helping more people however we can is our definition of success. The good news is money is normally a by-product of doing what you love – if done the right way. Even Sir Richard Branson testifies to this.

Monetary Value

Some people measure success by monetary values, how much money we have in the bank or coming into our businesses? To some, whether things work out outside of the process of making money doesn’t matter. Money is a defence according to the bible so it’s therefore a necessity for daily life. If money is the true measurement of success, why do some rich people still end up miserable? This is a good indication that money is not the only measurement of success.

Adding Value

Like me, some people’s success is linked to the number of people we can help or add value to their lives. This can be through the products or services that we sell. It can also be the assistance we render through compassion for others, charitable deeds, social enterprise or a community group.  It can also be through motivating, inspiring, teaching or uplifting others.  In the process of adding value to the lives of others, the life of the giver is also enriched.

Fulfilment

1181306_jumping_couple_2 lusiFulfilment in doing what they love and enjoy is all that matters to some people. They may have a job that pays the bills, but their spare time is spent doing what they truly enjoy with no cognition of time, money or effort. To this group of people finding fulfilment is their own definition of success. At Business First Steps we believe what you do should be a lifestyle and not a chore.

Define Your Success Parameters

As business owners or start-up it is important that we set the right objectives for starting and developing a business from the onset. You do not want to get halfway through your business journey and throw in the towel because you aren’t fulfilled. The problem when things fail in most cases is not just the business model, but also unrealistic expectations, incorrect definition and measurement of success.

Knowing what you expect from your business when you start out will give you a good way of gauging your progress and success. For example, your aim could be to help 10 women set and achieve their short-term goals in one year.  This can be done voluntarily or for a fee.  The measurement of success is not how much money you make in the process, but how many women actually fulfil their short-term goals in a year.

The definition of success is determined by you. So spend some time questioning yourself to find out what you use to measure success in all your endeavours.  Once you have got your answers set goals, take action and aim for the sky.

What does success mean to you? How do you quantify success in your life?  I will love to hear from you so please comment below.

Your Partner in Business

Temi Koleowo

We love to help people define their passion and do what they love and enjoy. If you are still searching then get in touch and let’s dig and discover together. Business First Steps

Photo by Lusi & Sheela2010 sxc.hu

Products or Services Development Tip 1

They say ideas are a dime a dozen but how do you get that idea that is bound to create a storm in the market place.  Understandably, you want to follow your passion and create a business you can run whilst also having some fun.  Let’s be honest if you follow your passion and your bills never get paid, it is a matter of time before you pack it in.  I am a firm believer of maximising passion to make a living but in the same light you have to ensure there is a demand for what you want to offer.

So what are the things you can do to check if your product or service idea is a viable one?  The following tips can help you develop an idea around your passion:

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What Group of People Engage and Interest You?

This thought might never have occurred to you, but we are all more comfortable with certain groups of people than others. Some love being around mothers, students, football enthusiasts, foodies, professionals, women, men or techy people.   The people you like to hang out with and things that interest you might be an indication of who you can be selling your products or services to.

Facebook Founder

Take for instance the story of Facebook founder Mark Elliot Zuckerberg.  He launched Facebook from his dormitory room. With the help of friends, he took Facebook to other campuses nationwide and soon after moved to Palo Alto, California. By 2007, Facebook had made him a billionaire at the age of 23. By 2010, Facebook had an estimated 500 million users worldwide and reached 1 billion in 2012.  Wikipedia 2013.

That is a simple indication of how the people you hang out with can become your target market.  So get those magnifying glass and look at them closely.

My Mini Story

There are many people with similar stories who built their businesses based on the needs of people around them.  Due to my analytical ability, my family and close friends used to approach me when they are contemplating a business decision – initially I wasn’t sure why.   After many years of writing business plans for free, it dawned on me that I can actually make a living doing this albeit in a professional way.  My first few customers were my family and friends and I am grateful for their trust in me.  Now that my company accommodates people from all walks of life, it is amazing to think that this was something that was always a part of me.

Taking the First Step

So if you want to start a business on a part time, full time or as an additional income to your current career – look closely at the people that interest you.   It could be your work colleagues, your jogging buddy or your lunchtime/church group.  Do not start looking at them on the basis of money but on the basis of meeting their needs.  It is easier to sell to people you know to start off and grow from there.  Study them and start jotting down in a notebook what you think they need that you can provide.

Till Next Time…Don’t Stop the Process of Your Business Start-up.  Keep Moving!

Temi

www.businessfirststeps.co.uk – personalised and practical business set-up and start-up services.

Market Your Business With Knowledge

I was quite disturbed to read about a well-known supposedly Marketing Guru whose company was fleecing people for money. It reminded me of when I started out in business and was so eager for information. I was buying into so many empty promises of what will catapult my business to the next level. Little did I know that there is hardly a miracle marketing technique anywhere?

1159730_yell YodesignerI learnt after a few hard knocks that if you do not work on your business putting the right foundation in place, no matter the marketing strategy you engage in, you will fall flat on your face. I strongly believe that businesses that succeed work through a step by step marketing strategy. This is not to say marketing strategies do not work, but you need to know your business and how people respond to what you offer. I dare say that not all businesses will grow via social media. For some it’s the interaction with their customers face to face that will grow their businesses.

The following tips are some of the things you should be aware of to help you choose the right marketing strategy for your business:

Core Values – Understand your core values and how it translates into your business. What is important to you? Is it financial gain, longevity in business, popularity, your integrity or customer satisfaction? When you understand what your core values are, it will be easy for you to project it through your business marketing materials and strategies.

What Do You Sell? – Strange as it might sound, there are many businesses that are not clear about their aim and objectives and what they offer. That was me in times past; I was trying to do so much without defined products or services. It is confusing to say the least to those you are targeting if you don’t have well defined products or services. Are you a party planner/caterer or are you a graphic designer/copywriter. Whether you offer two, three or five services, make it clear through your website, marketing materials and even your elevator pitch.

Who Are Your Customers? – Who are the people that will buy your products? Who are you targeting? Young, Old, Rich, Middle Class, Students, Women, Mothers, Men etc? When you started out, who were you going to sell to? Keep that in mind when you develop your marketing plan. Where can you find them, what do they read, what else do they buy that can compliment your products? Some businesses can only serve a local area except they expand their service offerings. Let’s say you run a salon, except people come to your store, you can’t get much patronage. But if you now offer hair products online, use YouTube tutorials etc, then you can increase your target market by a wide margin.

What Is Your Budget? I feel on my face with this one over and over again until I made some realisticand hard decisions. So many people will offer you services that promise to grow your business miraculously. You need to align every proposal with your business aims, objectives and budget. How much have you put aside for marketing this year? Having this information to hand will prevent you from being swayed by marketing gimmicks.

21411_cash_notes_3 andyculpinLook Beyond the Money – I have had some simple engagements that have opened so many doors to great relationships and business opportunities. Whilst some have not gone beyond the single task, event/meeting. You will know a good opportunity when you see one. Do not be guided by money alone but let the prospects of what is to come help you make informed decisions. Attend networking events to build relationships and not just to sell your products or services. Offer your target market free offers so they can learn to trust you and you can build relationships with them too.

The Time Factor – How much time can you dedicate to your marketing strategies?  Can you afford to spend two hours a week listening to an audio training on marketing strategies?  If you can’t, then it is futile to purchase a plan you can’t commit to.  I love what someone suggested on Facebook – find 30 minutes a day/week and dedicate that time to building your business through one marketing effort at a time.  The thought of a huge marketing plan can be overwhelming. If you can update your social media status once a week start with that and don’t beat yourself down if you falter. Just try a bit more next time and before you know it, it becomes second nature. Remember Consistency is the key to organic business growth.

I could go about my marketing mistakes and what I have learnt that actually works. Believe me when I say I have tried quite a few, and quite ashamed of my gullibility in some cases.  But hey you learn in business and grow.  Now it is not so easy to get my hard-earned cash through hocus-pocus marketing strategies.

Buyers Beware!  Before you commit to another fomular, make sure you maximise the opportunities that present themselves to you at no cost.

I’ll love to hear from you – If you have got some marketing stories or tips you will like to share, please comment below.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

If you need help in developing your products or services or even develop a Sales Funnel, there is nothing a Brainstorming session can’t cure. Get in touch and let’s give your business a boost.

Persistence, Snowflakes and Starting a Business

I was fascinated as I watched the snow fall over the weekend.   I watched it fall way back from my window so I was unaware of the effect it had on the ground.  It was obvious that the snow was light – you know those flakes that you think will never settle.  I thought that the snow will probably clear out in a few hours so we can go out the next day.

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But how wrong was I! Due to the consistency of the snowflakes that kept on falling, it became quite obvious that it was going to be the traffic-stopping, school-closing kind of snow.  I was taken aback when I ventured out and surveyed what had happened. Alas, the whole place was covered in snow…it was breathtakingly beautiful and a snow fight with the kids was imminent.

My Business First Steps

You may wonder why I’m going on about the weather, isn’t this suppose to be a business blog. Well the snow reminded me of when I started out in business.   It was challenging to get any client initially and I was overjoyed if anyone even agreed to work with me for a small fee. Clients came in trickles, sometimes one or two in a few months interval.   I had to constantly remind myself that small steps lead to giant strides and I was learning a lot as I went along.  Today I can gladly say I now get a regular flow of clients every month.   It has taken hard work (even when I don’t feel like it) mixed with consistent and persistent actions to get this far and I am not even near where I want to be yet.

1411773_winter_landscape_with_trees_and_snow lewyzThe journey can be rough when you start out in business, but it doesn’t stay rough forever.   You develop new knowledge, skills and a better coping mechanism to deal with whatever comes your way.

But you will never grow if you do not start or if you keep starting and stopping every time you hit a roadblock.   

A few flakes of snow for a few minutes cannot make much difference, but a few flakes that continue to fall over time can have a snowball effect.

Find Your Starting Block

If you want your passion, idea, concept, community group or social enterprise to make a difference, you need to commit to being consistent and persistent.

Three very important steps to help you get over the first few hurdles of starting a business:

  1. Find your starting line – define your passion, aims and objective.
  2. Get on your marks – put things in place to prepare you for the journey and stay focused.
  3. Then GO!  Push forward in the right gear and with all that you’ve got and never look back. 

Starting and running your own passion-based business is a fulfilling and rewarding option. Whether you want to do it full-time or in addition to your current job or family life, you deserve the chance to give it a go.

I wish you good success.

Temi Koleowo.

Get in touch if you find the business start-up journey rather hazy.  I am passionate about helping people package their passion, ideas or concept into something fulfilling and enjoyable. www.businessfirststeps.co.uk – personalised and practical business start-up coaching, brainstorming, resources and support.

 

Rest in Time of Need

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Today I woke up really tired. I was tired and needed a break from work.  I thought to myself, I consciously took some time off before and after Christmas. Surely I do not need another break.  After some soul-searching I discovered that my tiredness was not physical, it was more mental. I needed a break from thinking business strategies, business opportunities and business growth. I just wanted to BE!!!

So luckily since I work from home, I decided to take a break. After all, one of the reasons why I am self-employed is so I can be flexible enough to do things my way. So my way today is to mute the phones, turn off the laptop and have some meditation time with God followed by a power nap. I felt so much better an hour or so later.

My action today reminded me that first, I must always recognise when I need a break.  Understandably if you don’t work your business, some things simply won’t work. But your business can’t work if you are unable to work.

Second, we need to put certain things in place so our businesses can still run if we need to take a break.  My task to you and I is to evaluate the dynamics of our businesses and how they work.  Can it survive without you or will it die when you can’t be there? This goes especially for service-based industry

This year I intend to work on making sure my business is not solely reliant on me being at a desk all day, every day (and night). So I better check my sales funnel again. Do you intend to do the same?

Got some business tricks up your sleeve? Drop me a line or comment below.

I wish that you prosper as your soul prospers.

Temi

Need help starting your business?   Visit Business First Steps for more information and support to get your show on the road.