So, You Have A Big Idea, What Next?

By Sally Goodsell, business angel, coach and mentor, Anglia Capital Group

Published in Suffolk Director business magazine

Inspiration and the ability to spot a business opportunity, even in a crowded marketplace, is what sets entrepreneurs apart from other people. However, the ability to execute that “big idea” sustainably and profitably is what makes a great entrepreneur.
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So, You Have A Big Idea, What Next?

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Sometimes, the big ideas don’t work out for various reasons, so don’t let past failure stop you. Interestingly, some investors will only invest in entrepreneurs who have failed once. They feel that they will learn from these mistakes and become better business owners as a result.

So, some top tips for converting that big idea into a successful business are:

1. Is your idea world beating or just a good idea in a limited market?

Understand the scope and potential of your business and plan accordingly. All sizes of business can be successful and don’t over stretch yourself if you want to keep it small and beautiful.

2. Surround yourself with good people who can add value

If you are looking for high growth, look for a mentor who has been there and done it before. They’re not usually looking for payment and can provide invaluable support and guidance. It is lonely running a business, so get out there and talk and share your ideas and concerns. If you are building a team, look for complementary skills. Don’t hire clones of yourself.

3. Be prepared to be challenged

There is more than one route to success, and you need to be flexible in your approach. For instance, it may be better to pursue a licensing route rather than manufacture yourself. Costs will be lower and a licensee with established distribution channels can ensure that your product can get to market. Listen to advice.

4. Understand your competitive advantage and the dynamics of your market 

Think of Uber and how it has created a real USP in a crowded marketplace. Do your research properly, talk to potential customers, competitors (they may turn into partners) and trade bodies. Be sensible, but not paranoid about sharing information. Is your product/service really what the market wants? Does it solve a real problem?

5. Stay customer focused

It’s a cliché but encourage a culture in the business that promotes this. Build relationships of trust and deliver what you promise – always.

6. Control costs from day one

Most businesses fail because of a lack of cash. Do you really need premises, or could you hot desk somewhere? Don’t give equity away to suppliers. For instance, it may seem tempting to save the cost of a website by doing this, but it can expensive in the long term and can mess up your ability to raise capital in the future.

7. Understand the power of networking

Get yourself into industry groups and use this platform to promote your business idea. You never know who is out there. But remember to share that space. Don’t get yourself too over exposed.

8. Is your big idea capable of patenting or protection of some sort?

It is not always a guarantee that somebody won’t copy your idea and it does cost money, not just to register a patent, but to maintain and protect it as well. Get some advice from a reputable source.

9. Leave plenty of time to raise the money…

…especially if you are looking for equity. Think about any funding requirements and the time it will take. Prepare your numbers carefully and understand what you are looking for. If numbers aren’t your forte, get some advice from a professional.

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