Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Booming Baby Business panel session at the British Library BIPC centre. There was so much fabulous advice coming out of it that I have decided to release the information in three articles.
The first speaker on the panel was Cally Robson, founder of She’s Ingenious; a fantastic membership site that helps women take their idea and turn it into a business. Cally is an inspirational speaker and here are her seven keys to business success for anyone who is thinking about starting a business, but particularly those who want to create a new product.
Right thinking first
If you want to succeed with creating a new product, it’s important that you do the right thinking first. Take advantage of a lot of the free resources that are available, such as the business research facility at the British Library and gather as much information as possible to help you succeed.
Get the questions right first
Once you decide what you need to know, then you can go and find the answers, but make sure that you are asking the right questions first. Test your idea with your market, find out what they need and what isn’t working. There are always answers out there; it’s about getting the question right first.
If your questions are right, they will make your product stronger. But you have to be open to the solution. Don’t be so attached to what you are building that you get in your own way. Absorb the answers like a sponge and then act.
Create but then focus
Creative people can’t stop having ideas. This is a fantastic trait and I encourage you to be the creator and originator but then make sure you have the right angle and focus on getting the idea off the ground. It can be very easy to get caught up creating idea after idea after idea and spread yourself too thin. Once you have a really solid idea, hold on to it and control it.
Make sure that you think about the business opportunity in your idea. Identify the opportunity and pin it down. Think to yourself, where is the hot end of the market, where is the need and where is the desire. It is much easier to sell people what they really desire, help them get closer to the dream that they want. If you create something that is going to help them achieve their dream then you are on to a winner.
Champion your customer
You must love your end user above anything else. Your whole reason for being is to serve your end user. Your vision should come from what you want to change for the end user. Think like your customer. Ask some tough questions about your end product. It will always be easier if you are your own target market.
Serve the supply chain
Have a look at your product and think about how you can serve your supply chain. What can you create that will help all the way along the supply chain. Think ahead of time who you are going to upset and how can you bring them on board. With advance planning you can turn that upset on it’s head. Find ways to encourage your supply chain to sell your product. Most people don’t like selling, but now you can build relationships and see where there is a win-win. Ask them what they need, what is happening in the marketplace at the moment, and then you have those relationships when you come out to market.
Protect your IP – but at the right time
Protecting your IP makes a difference about whether you are creating a lifestyle business or a scalable asset. If you plan it from the beginning it will make a difference between struggling and flying in your business. It’s important to get an understanding of how IP works and don’t assume that you need to go out and do it straight away. (note from Julie, check out the British Library’s IP services as they all free). Don’t rush into it. Make sure you patent at the right time, once you have really developed and tested your idea as it is difficult to go back, particularly if your product changes significantly.
Keep those plates spinning
Each one of these ideas is like spinning a plate and keeping them spinning. Reach out and get help from other people and look after yourself. Developing an idea is about you and your thinking – make sure you’ve got structure to your thinking and capture it. Write things down, manage yourself, learn that you’re going to come up against those obstacles and you WILL find a way round them.
I recently heard a great quote from Richard Reed, the founder of Innocent Smoothies… “The thing that sets successful people apart are one; that they got started in the first place and two; that they just kept going.”
You are the one that is responsible. You are the one that has to stay focused. You need to be very clear about what you want as an individual. Your wish needs to come from deep inside you. Make sure what you wish for and what you ask for come together.