Ideas – The Lifeblood Of Business
Neil Bromage has run his own small business and is a freelance business writer working on a range of newspapers including The Times, Sunday Times, Telegraph and Financial Mail on Sunday. This book is based on a wide range of columns and Q&As written and answered by Neil for Business Link over a number of years. He is based near Preston, Lancs.
Ideas are vital to develop new or existing products or services or even to take that first step into a new business. In fact wherever you are in the business life cycle you’ll need lots of ideas if your business is to thrive.
Generating ideas is the first step and some of the questions you should be asking are ‘What if?’, ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’ Try looking at how you can change existing products or services to meet an unmet need, an existing need in a different, more convenient way or to improve quality or service. Be observant and on the lookout for emerging trends and expanding market niches.
During this process, employ any technique you can think of, including brainstorming. It’s often hard to find the time for this but it’s well worth doing. Focus on your consumer and market, not on your product – there’s no point in making something better if no one needs or wants it in the first place.
Once you have a shortlist of ideas it’s lime to start assessing them as viable business opportunities. This means devoting time and effort to assessment, research, development and planning.
Talk about your product or service with prospective customers. Is there really demand for your offerings? If so, how strong? How price sensitive? What sets you apart from your competition?
Research everything you can about your target market and competition. Who are they, how are they structured, how long have they been in business, what are their respective market shares, what sets you apart? Are price wars common? If so, you may have too much competition. Are there only one or two big players and no little ones? Look for markets where there is healthy competition between product or service providers but where profit margins are reasonable. Work out your expenses and how much revenue you need to generate to break even. Then project realistically how much you need to make a profit.