So, you came up with a brilliant idea. A million-dollar idea, even! But right now, that’s all it is. The question is, how do you turn that big concept into cold, hard cash?
1. Write it down. How many light-bulb moments do you have at 2:00 a.m. and then forget come 9? Or, worried that your idea will be stolen, you keep it to yourself, promising to chase it down when you finally get the time. If you actually write down every money-making scheme you think up, one of them is bound to be the real deal eventually.
2. Once you settle on the idea you want to pursue, write a pros-and-cons list. What could make your idea truly successful? What could make it a total bust? Once you identify the cons – a too-high initial production cost or a newcomer in a competitive industry – you can start your search for solutions.
3. Determine your audience. Who do you think will buy your product or service? Run business surveys to determine whether there’s a market for what you want to sell.
4. Figure out what problem you’re solving. Uber eliminated the inconvenience of hailing a taxi and the difficulty of pre-ordering a ride, all for an affordable rate. Apple lowered the cost of technology and made it user-friendly at a time when computers were designed for engineers and tech professionals. If you solve a real problem that exists in the market, consumers won’t be able to live without your product.
5. Find a business partner. Although you may want to keep your idea to yourself, remember that it takes two flints to make a fire. How many successful start-ups do you know that were founded by a single person?
6. Start to think about money. If you don’t already have some rainy-day funds to dive into, consider crowdfunding, borrowing from friends, credit cards or loans. Know the risks you’re taking before moving forward.
7. Create a financial model. If you want to attract investors, a financial model that forecasts the fiscal performance of your business will show them your expected profitability and their return on investment. This makes you a more reliable bet.
8. Develop your prototype or beta test. This will allow you to see if your idea will actually work in the real world.
9. Prepare to be flexible and roll with the punches. Odds are, your initial idea won’t be the same as your final product, and that’s okay.
10. Keep on the sunny side. There are going to be truckloads of people who try to tear you and your idea down on your road to success. Stick to your guns – it’s your baby and your investment of time and money, so make sure you believe in it.
MIKE MICHALOWICZ (pronounced mi-KAL-o-wits) started his first business at the age of 24, moving his young family to the only safe place he could afford – a retirement building. With no experience, no contacts and no savings, he systematically bootstrapped a multimillion-dollar business. Then he did it again. And again. Now he is doing it for other entrepreneurs. Mike is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued; a former small-business columnist for The Wall Street Journal; MSNBC’s business makeover expert; a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship; and the author of the cult classic book The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. His newest book, The Pumpkin Plan, has already been called “the next E-Myth!” For more information, visit www.mikemichalowicz.com