A relative once told me, “Jowanna, I have lots of great business ideas that will make us money; I just need you to run with it.” Starting a business goes beyond the initial idea. If you want long term business success, you must first clarify your business idea.
Steps to Clarify Your Business Idea
Before launching a service or business, clarify your idea using the following steps.
- Create an idea map through brainstorming. Though brainstorming may seem like a frivolous step, don’t skip it. Use a mind map tool like Gitmind to brainstorm and build a host of business ideas.
Do not analyze or filter ideas in this step instead, add whatever comes to mind. You will get the chance to examine your concepts in the next step.
- Refine your idea map. Remove ideas that do not fit into your vision. If you are unsure about an idea, leave it. Resist the urge to over-analyze your map at this stage in the business development process.
- Organize your idea map. Group like ideas together. For instance, if you are a coach or a therapist, you can break down your ideas by services, then by delivery mode. For example, you may decide to offer life coaching to both individuals and groups while only providing forgiveness coaching to individuals.
You don’t have to detail every category, but at least breakdown your high priority sections. For instance, if you have a public speaking category that you plan to implement in the future, then create a bubble or square to represent it, but save the details for later. Having too many details can overwhelm you and delay your progress.
- Create an idea backlog. After you’ve organized your idea map, transfer the information from it to the spreadsheet. I call the spreadsheet an idea backlog. You can use a spreadsheet software Google or Excel to create it.
Prioritize the item in your idea backlog and give every idea a unique priority number. Assigning multiple items as the number one priority will slow down your process, and you’ll find yourself frustrated and stuck.
- Select the concept with the highest priority to work on first. As a small business, you don’t have the luxury of having unlimited resources. Working on and implementing one idea at a time is your best bet for success.
- Prepare research questions. Draft a list of questions you need to answer about your business idea. Examples include:
– What programs are other coaches offering?
– What are the various price points?
– What company has great content?
– What are other coaching practices focus areas?
– What are the gaps in service offerings that I can fill?
– Is there a company that I want to model?
Remember, you are not doing the actual research—you will do it in a future process.
- Organize and prepare for preliminary research. To avoid information overload, make a framework or repository to store the information you find. You can either create a document or a bookmark structure in your favorite browser.
Create three or four categories. If you create bookmarks, then these categories would be three or four subfolders under your main research folder.
If you have no idea what bookmarks are, no worries. You can use any type of text editor or a word processor like Google Docs or Microsoft Word to create a document to store the information you find during your preliminary research.
Here are the categories I use when preparing to research an idea.
– Content Inspiration
– Pricing Inspiration
– Product and Service Inspiration
– Got it ALL
- Develop your search terms. Prepare the search terms you will use to do your preliminary research. Think of ways your potential customers would look to search for your services.
There are tools you can use to find out what popular keyword phrases potential clients use to find companies like yours. Don’t get bogged down in optimizing your search right now. It will come later. Here are some terms you may want to add on your list (if you are a life coach)
– Life coach near me
– How to find a life coach
– How much does a life coach cost
– Find a certified life coach
– Find a confidence coach (if that’s your niche)
- Conduct your initial research. This step is the most time-consuming step of the idea clarifying process. This is NOT your competitor analysis—you are gathering information to use after you clarify your business idea.
For each search phrase, you’ve defined in step eight, google the term and quickly analyze each website in the results for the first three Google pages. If you find something that appeals to you, then store it under the appropriate bookmark or section in the document you prepared (see step 7).
The research at this phase is not for in-depth analysis. It’s to organize sites based on the categories you determined in step 7. For each search term, you created in step 8, quickly review the first three Google pages.
I prefer using a document over bookmarks. I create a table with the company name, link, categories, and quick notes of what I like about it. Evaluation should not take longer than a minute for each step.
- State the idea you want to implement. Congratulations! At this stage, you should have a clear definition of the business idea you want to leap forward for your business—the more specific, the better.
Example: I want to quantum leap my online parent coaching program in McDonough, Ga.
If you still don’t have a clear idea, consider booking a session with a business coach.
Though clarifying your business idea may sound intimidating, it is the first step to launching your service. Once you finish making your idea concrete, you will then conduct market research to define your target market.
If these steps still make you nervous, you are not alone. Most business owners are experts in their craft and need a business coach to help them clarify their business concept and write a business plan, for instance.
The Jowanna Daley’s Quantum Leap program enables you to:
• Clearly define your business idea
• Find your target audience
• Conduct market analysis
• Communicate your message
• Create your financial projections
• Set strategic goals for your small business
For a free result-oriented business telecoaching session with Jowanna Daley located in McDonough, GA, fill out the client intake form on my site. Clarity is the first step to successfully minding your business!