You’ve come up with an incredible idea. You’re super excited about where it can lead. You’re ready to get going!
New ideas often come to me in the middle of the night (when I should, arguably, be sleeping). Some of them don’t seem so great in the light of day. Others definitely seem like they could have potential, but… do they really???
After 5 years of running my own business and working with hundreds of startups around the globe, I am now convinced that coming up with the idea is the easy part. The real challenge lies in actually making it happen.
There is no magic formula to ensure that your idea is going to succeed. But after my recent (and super successful) launch of the Afri-love Connection Club with my business BFF Lulu Kitololo, I want to share some tips that could increase your chance of success when you launch your idea.
1. define your target market
I can’t tell you how many people I meet who are adament that their idea is for “everybody”.
When you refuse to specify your target market, not only do you make it quite difficult to create a must-have product or service, but you also make it pretty tough for your customers to find you because your marketing message tends to be too vague.
Be specific. Choose one target market to start with.
When we were conceiving the idea for the Afri-love Connection Club, our market was still fluid. All we stated is that we were initially targeting female founders. We didn’t specify location nor industry. But we needed to learn a lot more from these women.
2. conduct market research
OMG…I can’t tell you how important this step is!
Market research is the ONLY way to truly validate your idea.
During this research, you are not pushing your idea onto anybody. Instead, you are in information-gathering mode. You want to learn as much as possible about your target market, their current needs and challenges, how they’re currently tackling these challenging and what’s missing.
You can do this through online surveys and in-person conversations. The more conversations you can have and the more information you can gather, the better!
Why does this matter?
Because you don’t want to waste time nor money creating something that nobody wants. It’s, honestly, heart-wrenching to face this sort of rejection.
I’m gonna be honest…when Lulu and I first pushed out our market research survey, we had a very different idea in mind. We asked a couple of questions that would give us some feedback on our great idea. But ultimately the information that we gathered indicated that there was not yet a demand it.
3. listen to your market
Market research will tell you a lot if you ask the right, open-ended questions.
From ours, we were able to get a variety of responses from women in different geographic locations.
We were then able to segment our market and look only at respondents in Nairobi. This geographic segmentation showed some more patterns in the challenges that female founders were facing plus gave us more detail into what they would be willing to spend money on, how they would want to consume content and how much time they’d be able to commit.
From there, the Afri-love Connection Club came into existence, specifically for female founders in Nairobi at this stage.
We had to put our original idea on hold and listen to what our market wants NOW. Doing so allowed us to create the perfect offering that would actual sell.
4. design your offering
Designing the Afri-love Connection Club was not been too difficult because we already had an idea of what we wanted to offer. We simply had to change the format.
However, you can never be 100% sure that what you’re creating is the perfect solution. And this is why pilots and prototyping and iterations are a necessary part of launching your idea.
If you’re offering a service, consider running a pilot of a smaller group of participants and gather their feedback on how to make your service even better.
If you’re designing a product, start with a basic prototype, show it to potential customers and, again, gather their feedback.
Your service or product DOES NOT need to be perfect before you start showing it to people. It’s much better to have feedback from potential customers about what works and what doesn’t early on, while it’s still fairly easy to make changes or pivot.
5. plan your launch
I’m going to be honest with you…any launch is a lot easier when you already have an audience of people who follow you around, both online and offline.
But that audience doesn’t have to be massive.
My mailing list of Nairobi entrepreneurs sits at about 200 people and my social media following at about 500. But roughly half of my followers are likely to be men and some of the women certainly are still not my target market for this particular offering.
It’s much better to start with a small and really interested group of people rather than a bunch of strangers who don’t know anything about you.
We then followed this specific email launch sequence from The Rule Breaker’s Club and scheduled all of our tasks within Asana so it was easy to stay on top of everything.
In addition to the emails, Lulu and I also held a Facebook Live Q&A session and we shot a promotional video to talk about our “why”. We felt that it was important for people to see our faces, hear our voices and to interact with us in an alternative method than words on a screen.
5. figure out logistics
Every idea will have different logistical requirements. But some questions to consider include:
- How will the customer obtain the product or service?
- How will they pay for it?
- How will the product or service get to the customer?
- Who else needs to be involved in the process?
For the Afri-love Connection Club, the service is delivered in person with some online content in between meetings.
We offered payment by cheque, credit card or mPesa and created different payment plans and commitment levels to cater to our audiences’ needs.
In order to hold a monthly event, we also needed to find the perfect venue and catering services, negotiate terms and secure our dates.
Lulu and I have regular strategy and planning meetings to talk about content, design sessions and divvy up other tasks like communications, payment processing and other admin.
Any idea is only as good as its execution. If you just sit on it, nothing will ever move forward.
There are going to be times that you suffer from imposter syndrome and wonder “who the hell do I think I am to pull this off”.
There are times that you’ll be wrestling against other commitments and obligations.
There will be times when fear holds you back because you’re moving outside of your comfort zone.
These are all normal reactions.
Just try. Believe in yourself. And get going.
maybe you don’t feel ready
I get it. It can be scary to put yourself out there. You want to wait until you feel ready. Yet time goes by and you’re still not really feeling ready to launch your idea. And you’re definitely not ready to tell the whole world about it.
Check out my new online course From the Ground Up!
Give me just a couple hours of your time over the next 12 weeks and you’ll build solid foundations for your business including: defining your target market, building up your following, working out the best product or service to offer to them, how to price it, and more.
Click here to learn more about building your business From the Ground Up!