Smart business ideas can pop into someone’s head just about any time and anywhere: While walking or jogging, when driving, before going to bed, while doing housework, or during a brainstorming session.
The idea is usually triggered when the person notices a problem or need. The exciting moment the idea springs to life may seem like an epiphany, akin to a light bulb flipping on brightly in the brain. But that doesn’t mean it’s always a good, viable business idea, and discerning whether it will work doesn’t happen nearly as easily as the idea originally came.
“Getting a business idea from zero to reality requires numerous steps, lots of important details, and diligence,” says Deni Sciano, the founder of Score! Designs, LLC, a women-owned designer handbag company based in San Antonio, Texas.
Sciano got her business idea to design clear handbags when waiting in a long security line at a professional sports event. Her products are now sold in 100 stores across the U.S. “When you have that ‘a-ha!’ moment of discovery, your passion for your idea can take over, but that passion doesn’t give you the pragmatic side of business that you’ll need to properly investigate its potential and make it work. Having said that, by taking the right steps, being persistent and figuring it out, your idea might really take off.” Sciano offers five ways to turn your idea into a business reality:
Do your homework
“The idea person who’s basically new to marketing and selling really needs to self-educate as much as possible,” Sciano says. “Read books on sales and marketing. Learn the importance of trade shows and networking as well as online marketing. Research the market; you need to carry out a full analysis of your idea by investigating the target audience and its demographics.”
Plan to spend money
The dream-big side of a new idea is countered by — and sometimes ended by — the reality-check side of having enough money to invest in the project. “You have to ask yourself early-on, ‘Can I afford this?’ ” Sciano says. “That’s the No. 1 thing that can stop you. There are many money factors to consider — for a lawyer, an accountant, to hire staff, to get trademarks, do the marketing, etc. There’s a lot that goes toward building your brand and your market.”
“It’s crucial to form relationships with entrepreneurs who had an idea, believed in it, and made it happen,” Sciano says. “You need the knowledge and inspiration gained from them and their successful experience.”
Keep the faith
“The grinding day-after-day part of pursuing your idea and turning it into a business reality can be drudgery, overwhelming, and discouraging at times,” Sciano says. “Fear is a huge factor that stops people from following through. It’s like a chain on your ankle. But let your adventurous spirit and your continuing curiosity shine through. Keep the faith in yourself and your product.”
Learn how to juggle
Sciano says that if it’s done properly, dedicating oneself to a product investigation and launch is extremely time-consuming. The person with the idea needs to weigh whether following through on it is worth the personal sacrifices they must make. “You have to go all-out, and the first couple of years you have to give up some of those things you enjoy — spending time with friends, hobbies, etc.,” Sciano says. “Figure out what kind of work-life balance you need.”
“After you come up with a great idea, trying to make it work can seem like hitting a wall over and over again,” Sciano says. “You learn how to go over the wall, and going for it is worth it.”