• Ann Lim

New Year, New Venture?

The end of the decade felt strangely muted across the board. It's like the heady days of enormous change that had awed us had evolved to some difficult realities and we are still wondering if there will be solutions to things as diverse as privacy, community over personal gain and of course, the environment. But perhaps you found some optimism regardless, and have some ideas for solutions to these or other more practical needs. A new year is as good a time as any to fully explore if you idea could become a viable venture.

As a SCORE Mentor, I see clients every week with exactly such ideas. And one of the first things I work with them is, to think about the idea from a demand perspective. While many ideas are interesting, to become a business, the question is whether it can make money. To determine this, the four initial questions to answer are :

1) What is the demand that you see?

To be an attractive product or service, it's much easier if you've already identified the demand. You see the need or want, and ideally, it's one that many people want, or a few people want but are willing to pay a decent price for.

2) Who is the demand from?

When you are starting out, it's fun to imagine world domination but typically, it's much better to start with a small target market. Be specific.

3) What is your solution for that demand?

You see the need, and you think you have a good solution. Articulate what it is because thoughts become more concrete when you put it down on paper. You can then see the gaps, or will trigger further ideas, or better versions of the idea.

4) Why is your solution better than anyone else?

Sometimes people will say, there are no competitors to this market. There almost always is. It might not be the same product or service, but your target market most likely already have an alternative solution to the problem. And if you think that your idea is better than all these other choices, then describe why and in what ways clearly.

When you have these answers, you have what is know as your Value Proposition. This is simply the start of your journey to entrepreneurship, but it's a vital first step. You need to be able to explain clearly your business idea and from here, you can then move to the broader business plan. As you clarify this, test it with your family and friends. What kinds of questions do they ask you? Be curious and open about this feedback because all this perspective is data at this point. Fine tune the write up .

How does it look so far? Ready to keep going? Let's expand this initial idea in my next post with the business case outline.

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