How to Turn Your Idea Into a Business
Turning an idea into a business is considered one of the most rewarding and fulfilling challenges of a lifetime — a dream come true for many people! Although it’s not easy, the knowledge and skills required to start a business are something anyone can learn.
At Cobalt, we believe great entrepreneurs are made, not born. Hard work, passion, drive, perseverance, and absolute determination can fill gaps in knowledge and skills. The rest is learned by experience — doing, making mistakes, and adapting along the way. In other words, anyone can learn to take an idea and turn it into a business. All you have to do is start. But where do you begin developing an idea? That’s where Cobalt comes in — we’ll show you how to get started.
Maybe you want to make a hobby something more. Or maybe you have a creative project to share with the world. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or someone who wants to generate some additional income, great ideas often come and go. But what if they didn’t go? What if the steps were laid out for you?
From the ideation process to the successful launch of the product, you need to be on top of your game to make sure that you’re moving forward in the right direction. To transform your brilliant idea into a successful product, you need idea development software, a systematic approach to ensure you launch from a firm base.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of tools and services out there to help you turn your idea into a business. We thought it would be easier to do all of this in one place all while keeping your idea safe and secure.
And that’s why we created Cobalt — to finally make developing ideas into products — digital and physical products — easy, affordable, and safe.
Here are four steps to help you streamline the process of developing your business idea into a reality.
Market and Competitive Research
The first step in determining if your idea is worth pursuing is conducting market research. Begin your research by defining the problem that your business idea would be solving, including:
- Determining who your target customers are
- Finding their unmet and under-served needs or desires
- Defining your value proposition (a promise of value to be delivered — why a customer would choose your product or service over a competitor’s)
Does your product have too many competitors in the market already?
Review the competition and try to build a product that is unique and differentiated from competitors’ products. Identify the channels where you can find the users and try to understand their mindset. Understanding the competition will help you build a solid business plan.
Many entrepreneurs incorrectly assume that if they build a better mousetrap, people will beat a path to their door. Although a good mousetrap is essential, it’s only part of meeting the challenge. Investors want to know how sound the financial projections are and when they can cash out. Marketers want evidence of consumer interest and a viable market.
Developing a business plan is a vital step in launching a new business. Business plans can be formal or informal, but they enable you to crystallize the key components of your idea before launching a business.
Using the market research you did previously, create your action plan and decide what you want to accomplish with your new business. Establish goals and milestones, and identify the steps you need to make it to those milestones. Things to consider include:
- Your “story” and how you will convey it to potential investors and other interested parties
- Financial and operational goals and projections
- How you envision the business scaling over time
Most new entrepreneurs and businesses require at least a little funding to get off the ground in the early days. Think about how much money you will need to start and how you would like to fund your new business. Some of the most popular approaches include:
- “Bootstrapped” companies are developed by founders with little or no outside investment
- Bank loans or SBA loans (Small Business Administration) require that you pay back the principal and interest
- Many new entrepreneurs approach outside investors like venture capital investors or angel investors who contribute money in exchange for a stake in the company’s eventual revenue
- More recent models like “crowdfunding” allow prospective entrepreneurs to raise micro-donations to help their businesses grow
Incorporate the Business
Incorporating is the process of turning your startup business into a legal entity and deciding how you want to structure it. You’ll also want to consider where to incorporate, as different states have different ways of taxing businesses.
Typically, startups are incorporated as an LLC, a C corporation, or an S corporation. An LLC is the simplest way of structuring a business to protect your personal assets. Although both LLCs and S corporations have special tax exemptions, a C corporation is considered a taxable entity.
Build a Digital Prototype
The prototyping phase takes your business vision and makes it tangible to test whether real consumers will bite and includes:
Prototyping is a vital early step in business planning. It enables you to test whether your vision is feasible. It is a taste of what will eventually become a final product. However, not all prototypes will become a final product. Prototypes are about exploring ideas as well as developing those ideas further.
- Building your MVP (minimum viable product) — a prototype that focuses on the most critical part of a product or service
- Testing it with potential customers
- Iterating until you find product-market fit
Now that you have a business plan and a digital prototype that you’ve shown to real customers who will buy your product, it’s time to get it made. Taking a product from prototype to production is a complex process that requires protocol and procedures. There are hard starts and stops — the timeline for development is as individual as the person who created the product.
You will need to find and hire manufacturers, developers, engineers, and others who will turn your vision into a reality. With Cobalt, you can find and hire manufacturers, developers, engineers, and others who will bring your idea to life.
Once your product is developed, you likely will need marketing solutions to promote your product. As there is a lot of competition in every industry, you may need to invest a significant amount of money in branding and marketing your product. You need to decide upon the budget for marketing services and work with expert marketers.
The most important thing you need to do as a small business is to create awareness for your brand. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. The goal of marketing is to connect your business and product’s value to the appropriate customer base. A good marketing strategy helps you target your products and services to the people most likely to buy them.
There is no universal strategy that will transform your business. However, there are dozens of marketing strategies that have a proven history of success for small businesses.
Maybe you have a side hustle, and you want it to be something more. Or perhaps you’ve dreamt up the Next Big Thing. Whatever it is, Cobalt is a new kind of software that helps you develop your idea into a business. Cobalt is free for the first 30 days, so sign up today and get started on your idea development journey.