Here’s a proven initial action plan:
Identity – The product must be identified in order to have a relevant presence in the market place. For any product, it is wise to incorporate a company (a partnership or sole trader registration can also suffice)
Registration can help with ensuring your preferred name is registered and not taken by someone else. A registered company is liable to relevant taxes, so ensure you do your research before registration. Following this, extensive research must also be done to ensure an idea like yours does not already exist. If it does, what is the competition? What are their weaknesses? and how can you beat them?
Branding – This is the core of the business. Your product must have a solid logo, banner, name and presence. Reflect carefully about names that will resonate with consumers and customers alike. Your logo must be catchy as this will be what your product will be associated with……Forever!
Protection – Your business idea must be protected in order to stand a chance of success. Protection comes in many guises but there are 4 main types:
- Patent – A patent protects new inventions and covers how things work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made. Patenting costs between £230-£280 and can take up to 7 yrs to come out, but once patented, nobody else has the right to your idea.
- Trade mark – is a sign, which can distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors (you may refer to your trade mark as your “brand”). It can be for example words, logos or a combination of both. TM’s cost £170.
- Copyright – this automatically protects your idea. It’s free, but you still need to make it official.
- Design – simply protects the shape of an object. If this is relevant to your business idea, then you need to strongly consider this level of protection.
Marketing and Promotion – Once the identity and branding has been done, you can then start the marketing and promotion process. I’ll advice though that some form of protection is in place before any marketing is done just to deter anyone from copying or duplicating your idea. Marketing is an ongoing aspect of business. You can never have too much marketing or promotion. There are several channels for marketing and its best to utilise the free ones initially. Facebook, Twitter, Linked In are all sure-fire ways of promoting and marketing your product. I suggest a Facebook page as well as constant tweets about the product to build fan and follower base. The more followers you get on these platforms, the more users you get for the product.
Business plan – a complete and comprehensive business plan will be needed regardless of the type of support needed. Business plans are very important documents to keep and maintain not just for investors but for the entrepreneur too. Any business plan needs to be regularly updated in order to know what stage any business is at, next steps to take, updates on your competition and market trends.
Costs – In order to be able to determine the type and level of support, its important to put a figure on the business idea. Every investor, Venture Capitalist, Bank or loan company will want to know the product’s associated costs and how much investment you’ll need in total. This can be worked out by determining the costs of production, maintenance, servicing, admin, salaries, marketing & Promotion, miscellaneous expenses etc.
Investor or loan support? – It is imperative to determine the kind of support you would need to push this business forward. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Getting a loan is much more straightforward however, banks RARELY give loans any more to start-up businesses. There are several loan companies that are designed for new start-up businesses; all they need is financial projection, business plans, cashflow, profit and loss accounts etc. However, with any loan you have to pay back! Which leads to investors and Venture Capitalists. It’s extremely hard to get one these days especially in the current climate, but it can be done. There are several ways to hook an investor. I’ll talk more about investors next time! Just know that if the product is good, the product is good. Investors will not shy away from a good product.
Follow these simple steps when considering bringing a business idea to market.