Having a great idea for a new product or service can be exciting! You probably can’t wait to get started on your new business venture. And here at the Kantner Foundation, we, too, can’t wait to see what you do! But before you get started, make sure you’re really ready to take that idea and turn it into a successful startup.
YOU NEED MORE THAN A GOOD IDEA
A good idea is just the start of your entrepreneurial journey. It’s the tiny spark that will ignite the fire that drives your success.
But it’s just the start.
The first thing you’ll need to do is flesh out your idea into a more solid concept. Wanting to help solve the problem of climate change is an idea. Deciding to start a recycling program in your town is a concept. Wanting to sell jewelry is an idea. Deciding to craft fandom-based jewelry for teens is a concept.
To grow your idea into a concept, ask yourself who and what. Who is your target audience? Be as specific as possible. And what are you offering that’s unique to them? Again, be as specific as possible.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Don’t skip this part. Thorough research now will save you time and energy later on – and will help you make more money. What do you need to know before you launch your startup?
In marketing, this part of the process is called segmentation, targeting, and positioning, or STP. You don’t need to drill down quite as deeply as big companies do. But knowing who your target customer is and how to sell your product to them is what will give you a major advantage over your competitors (more about them below).
Let’s go back to selling fandom-based jewelry for teens. You already know that your audience:
- Consists mostly of teens, probably in the 12-17 age range
- Is made up of fans of a particular franchise or multiple franchises, such as the MCU or Minecraft
- Likes colorful accessories and is always looking for cool new stuff to wear
- Enjoys wearing clothes and accessories that celebrate their fandom
That was easy!
Once you’ve segmented your target audience, you can figure out how best to position your product. Where do teens who geek out over their chosen fandoms spend their time? Which social media platforms do they use? And most of all, how can you position your product as being the best value for their money?
WHO ARE YOUR COMPETITORS?
Competition won’t always come in the form of someone providing a product or service exactly like yours. Your customers have a certain amount of money they are willing to spend on specific products. In this case, that product is jewelry or other accessories. How, then, can you get them to notice and buy your homemade fandom jewelry instead of something from another Etsy seller?
Ask yourself what makes your product special or unique. What benefits will your customers get from this product? How does your product fit in with their lifestyle more than similar products?
You don’t need to put down other products. There’s zero need to resort to cheap attacks. Focus on what makes your product unique and the absolute best value for your customer’s money.
BUILD YOUR BUSINESS PLAN
There are millions of business plan templates out there. Here are a few we recommend for young entrepreneurs in the early stages of their startups:
- This “buzziness” plan was written by a young entrepreneur, for young entrepreneurs
- Here are some sample plans to get you started
- This is a more dedicated plan for startups
- And here’s a pdf of a very simple one-page business plan template
A business plan will help you focus on the steps you need to take, the timeline (and order) in which these steps need to get done, and how much money you’ll need. Try not to let yourself get intimidated by writing your business plan. You’re not married to it. This is a flexible, living document that’s there to keep you on track when you get overwhelmed by starting a business.
CREATE A PROTOTYPE
You can’t sell a product you don’t have! Before you can sell a line of MCU-inspired earrings and bracelets, those things need to exist in real life.
Create a prototype first. This is especially useful if you plan to sell a product you’ve never made before. It’ll also help you calculate the cost of materials, the length of time it takes to make one product, and tweak any issues that come up. Maybe you thought making jewelry would be easy, but once you get started you find yourself frustrated with the wirework and beading. Or the finished product doesn’t look the way you imagined. The first prototype then leads to a second, third, and as many as it takes until you get it just right.
You’ll be more likely to score venture capital when you have a finished, polished, ready-to-sell product to show. If you watch “Shark Tank,” you know it’s a good idea to arrive at a pitch meeting with working proof of your product.
Now that you have taken your idea and turned it into a reality, it’s time to launch your startup. Build that website, make those ads, and open those social media accounts. It still won’t be easy, but at least you’re prepared. Instead of bending some metal and trying to sell it as a bracelet to anyone who will buy it, you’re focused on your product, your customers, and your business.
Those of you who intend to pitch your idea to investors first now have almost everything you need to walk confidently into that meeting. You’ve already proven that you know what you’re doing.
Nearly every business works this way. It’s rare that a company as big as, say, Samsung will start selling a new idea right away. Thankfully, you don’t need to put together focus groups, run A/B testing, or engage in endless rounds of team meetings to turn your idea into a reality. All it takes is a little prep work. Before you know it, your idea will be a successful reality!
The Kantner Foundation is proud to offer college scholarships to Florida’s high school entrepreneurs. To learn more about our program, and to start your application, click here.