How many evenings have you spent with friends solving the world’s problems and spinning tall tales about the company you hope to start? It’s one thing to dream about being the next Steve Jobs and quite another to make it happen. If you’re really serious, you need to figure out what to do to turn a 2 a.m. fantasy into reality.
Analyze the market.
Your idea might seem terrific and totally unique, but is it really? Your first step in turning dreams into reality must involve conducting an investigation to make sure people are actually interested in what you are potentially selling, and that no one has gotten there first. If they have, your challenge will be how you can tweak your vision to make it unique.
Come up with a financial plan.
No amount of denial or procrastination can make this step disappear. As overwhelming as you may find it, you have no choice but to carefully plan out a nuts-and-bolts plan that shows how you will raise the money to start and run your new business, as well as how you will function in the case of a crisis. This means a three to five-year projection of elements such as cash flow, overhead costs, income, investment stages, and profits and losses.
Write your elevator speech.
Once you have arrived at an idea you are reasonably sure that people will respond positively to, and have found a way to fund it, the time has come to introduce your product to consumers. The key is to make a sales pitch that will excite customers and investors alike, setting you apart from all of the other retailers that are operating in similar territory. To that end, create a persuasive speech that takes no more time to deliver than it requires to go from the ground floor of an office building to the 15th floor. Take any longer than 30 seconds … and you will likely lose people’s attention.
Develop your brand personality.
Speaking of attention spans, today’s consumers respond most favorably to companies that display their values and priorities with consistent branding across their entire product line. Branding includes logos, color schemes, messaging, slogans, the tone expressed in videos and ad content, and much more. Believe it or not, there is an entire field of expertise devoted to branding. If you have the financial resources to do so, it might be in your best interests to hire one of these consultants to help you in imagining, developing, refining, and adopting your own unique company personality.
Make it legal.
You know what you’re going to sell, to whom, and how you will be presenting the products. Now your next step is to turn your business into a real and legal entity. First, take care of any federal, state, and municipal requirements, as well as any necessary licenses. Next, open a business bank account, obtain a domain name and website, look at ecommerce platforms, settle on a point of sale solution that contains a credit card terminal, and so forth. Enlisting the help of a legal professional during this complicated portion of your company’s development is a wise choice if you can afford to do so.
It's a long road between idle thoughts and a meticulously planned outcome. Launching a business and growing it successfully are definitely not for the lazy or the faint of heart. However, methodically taking the incremental steps outlined above can help to turn your late-night dream into a fun and profitable endeavor that your customers will love, and that could change your life.