How many times has someone said to you, “That’s a great idea, you should really run with it and make it a reality”? And how many times have you successfully converted a brilliant idea into a successful innovation? If the answer to the second question is zero, you're not alone. Unfortunately, most potentially great ideas remain dormant. Why? Most people don’t have the resources, courage, time and/or money to take action.
As entrepreneurs, we at SAMC have been through the journey of discovery enough times to know the pain and the joy that comes with having a big idea and making it happen.
But bringing an idea to life is really hard. As the saying goes, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” It's mostly a battle against time (competitors with the same idea are often right on your heels), so in the beginning, the crucial parts of your business strategy should be planning and research.
More like a marathon than a sprint, the process of converting an idea into something real is an ongoing one. To help you on your journey, here are a few things every entrepreneur should know.
The prime source of innovation power in any business lies in the mind of the entrepreneur. When you are mentally prepared for new opportunities, your idea is instantly infused with a strong capacity to innovate. However, before you fuel your concept with such power, you need to test it by applying the following three mantras:
- How unique is your idea regarding the value proposition it offers customers compared to others in the marketplace?
- How many strategies do you think you'll need to generate real revenue once you bring your idea to life?
- Does your innovation generate interactivity and emotional engagement that genuinely matters to people?
While launching an innovative new product might be the objective, it's equally important not to lose sight of your company’s values and to build your innovation process around them.
Finding Your WHY
Personal branding is the most crucial aspect of any innovation process. Today’s competitive business world requires having a particular brand with a definite purpose behind it. As Jeff Boss states in his 2016 article in Forbes ("3 Reasons Why The Power Of Purpose Is Unquestionable"), the power of intent is really quite formidable. It’s what forces us to keep moving in the darkest of nights; it gives us the courage and determination to tap into the most candid reserves of energy we possess and to keep pushing, even when things don’t go as planned.
Everyone needs a purpose, and finding yours is the essential step toward converting an idea into an actual product or service that consumers will respond to.
So there is one crucial question to ask yourself—WHY? What makes you feel alive?
You shouldn’t take this question lightly. And the answer shouldn’t involve something like going bungee jumping or reading your favorite book. It should be something much bigger than that. Your “WHY” is your passion. It’s that thing that you know you can do better than anyone else if you focus on it. It's about a cause you connect to on a personal level, a reason that’s bigger than you—but it’s also a cause that reflects who you are and what you value in life.
Research. Observe. Learn.
It may sound obvious, but researching and understanding your market are among the most important parts of turning an idea into reality. It's the essential platform for any successful entrepreneur. Very often, research is pushed aside by your passion and confidence in your vision, but even in your rush to get your idea out there, don't forget these three important tenets: research, observe and learn.
So, Where Should You Start?
First, look at your competitors—and not just locally. Observe your peers and rivals around the globe. What are they great at and what are their weaknesses? Have they made any mistakes that you want to avoid? There is no better way to objectively evaluate your idea than by observing the path your competitors are taking. This will give you valuable insights into ways to stand out and avoid possible pitfalls.
Next, carefully analyze consumer and market trends, from a simple Google search all the way to mystery shopping. You don’t have to invest in a research company—you can do it yourself by diving deep into existing customer experiences and finding unexplored market space, unmet needs, that your product or service can fill. (Think Starbucks, Uber, Yellowtail wine, even Facebook.)
Powerfully—And Uniquely—Express Your Brand and Idea
Expressing your brand takes more than creating the perfect logo. It’s about translating your “why” along with your research findings into how your brand should look and sound. Your idea has to tell a story, and you must interpret this story correctly. Many entrepreneurs think they can do this all by themselves, but unless you come from a strong branding background, chances are you will never get the optimized results which a branding firm can bring to the table.
Expressing your story requires a professional eye. From brand positioning and logo to the tone of voice, colors and fonts, there are many elements you might not be familiar with if branding is not your expertise. That's why it's essential to build a strong team to optimize efficiency and get the best results, with everyone on the team focusing on what they do best. Remember, no matter how fabulous your idea might be, people won’t be interested unless there is an engaging story behind it.
Once you finish the planning, researching and development stages, it’s time to introduce your innovation to the world. This is where an effective PR strategy is essential. It’s one of the most cost-effective methods to raise awareness about your innovative product, but also to generate positive publicity and successfully manage any crises that might arise.
PR is more than writing an engaging press release. You need to develop a diversified, integrated plan with online and offline tactics included, all of it tailored specifically to your business needs. Put some time into defining your key audience and target market and planning your PR strategies, based on previously-defined objectives. They key is to deliver the right message to the right people in the right ways at the right time. Right!
2 Blogs on the Subject You Might Find of Value:
- Entrepreneurs: Focus on Unmet Needs through Visual Exploration
- What are some of the Best Business Ideas for Entrepreneurs Over 50?
And Two Podcasts:
- Rod Robertson: Winning at Entrepreneurship
- Andi Simon: Women Entrepreneurs Changing Corporate Cultures
Ready To Launch Your Big Idea? Let's Talk.
At Simon Associates Management Consultants, we help entrepreneurs successfully respond to changing business environments. Our 6-Step Process is specifically designed for entrepreneurs who need smart, innovative business strategies so they can adapt to changing times and capitalize on new technologies. Please contact us to discuss how our process works and also how we might help you find startup capital, launch your business, capture customers and grow market share. We look forward to hearing from you.
From Observation to Innovation,
Andi Simon, Ph.D.
Corporate Anthropologist | President
Simon Associates Management Consultants
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