Lauren Kloock | Aug. 11, 2017

You have an idea for a business, but where do you begin?

Before jumping into the technical logistics of starting your company, there are several questions you should ask…

What problem am I solving?
It’s easy to get emotionally attached to your business idea. This idea is your baby; it’s important to you; you know in your mind that it also must be important to others. However, all of these notions are based on your personal perceptions and assumptions. This mindset is a common obstacle many entrepreneurs face. They are so infatuated with their initial idea, yet they fail to address whether it actually solves a problem for others. The Urban Dictionary’s definition of assume is “to make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me,’” so let’s avoid that. Take out any assumptions you may have about your business. Make sure your business actually provides value within the market and verify it is something that people need.

Who will benefit from my business?
So you’ve identified the problem that your business will solve. Now it’s essential that you define your target market. Are you helping millennials, baby boomers, men, women, or maybe even dogs…? Perhaps it’s a combination of various markets or maybe it’s niche. Either way knowing who you’re serving is key.

Will people pay for my product or service?
Just because you are solving a problem for others, doesn’t necessarily mean that they will pay for it. You’ll quickly find this out by testing your market. But here’s a general rule of thumb: if you have to educate the market on the root problem you are solving, it’s likely you’ll have a tougher time selling your product or service. That’s not to say it’s unimportant to educate your customer (especially when it comes to various marketing strategies); however, keep in mind that you may encounter more hurdles if the problem you are solving needs explanation.

So what is the next step? You’ve asked yourself these questions, but now it’s time to actually put it to the test. Get in front of your potential customers and conduct surveys. Ask open-ended questions that elicit unanticipated feedback to help validate your business idea. Then listen! Pay attention to the suggestions of your potential clients. Don’t take offense or be shut off to their ideas. Flexibility, adaptability, and openness will be key to your business’ success.

If you’re interested in learning more about this approach to starting a business, check out our entrepreneur development program. As a group we dive deep into testing business ideas and assumptions in a collaborative setting, where entrepreneurs can bounce ideas off each other allowing their creativity to thrive. Learn more about the Ice House Entrepreneur Program here.