Starting your business? Read this first

The business world has seen some pretty epic fails; Businesses that started with a bang and ended with a “Dang!” With the benefit of hindsight, we see that some of these ideas were so obviously catastrophic and we honestly wonder how their owners ever thought of them in the first place. This is because the truth is, even useful products are sometimes choked out of the market, how much more a ridiculous idea.

8 in every 10 business that starts today will inevitably fail. But here’s the thing- when all of these businesses started, the owners were convinced that they were bringing a brilliant product into the market; including the person who thought it was a splendid idea to turn your baby into a mobile house mop!

So before you invest so much time into an idea that’s not currently viable, here are 5 guidelines you should use in accessing your business idea!

Understand the Features-Benefits of your Product/Service

In most advertisement campaigns, entrepreneurs often make the mistake of thinking that merely putting out the excellent features of a product is enough to convince customers to patronise them. In reality, that is rarely the case. A watch is precise and diamond-studded; That’s a physical feature and merely a factual statement about the product. If it makes a customer stand out, feel confident and boosts their self-esteem, that’s a benefit; Benefits are what you want to highlight.

Benefits show how features directly add value to a customer and make them feel. Inventing a vibrating tattoo (yes, a phone manufacturer actually took out a patent for this) might seem like a great idea- until you have to sort out exactly how that adds any benefit to a customer.

Optimism is a beautiful thing. Tempered with a good dose of reality, it becomes a useful, beautiful thing.

Understand Your Market

Along with knowing all you can about your product and/service, another very important thing to consider is the market you hope to reach. What are the demographics (age, sex, income, education etc.) and psychographics (attitudes, needs, wants aspirations etc.) of your target audience? This is key.

Engage Sample Portions of your Target Market

It is easy to think that just because you are hyped about your product/service, everyone else will be too. Sadly, that’s not always the case. You should actually carry out market surveys to ask people their opinions about your product or service. Hold focus and pilot test group meet-ups. And be careful not to try to influence their opinions with leading questions and such. They really have nothing to lose if everything goes south and your launch falls flat on its face. You do. As a guide, rather than ask what they love about the product, ask what they love about substitute products and what they find wrong about yours. You would learn a whole lot that way.

Research Your Industry Rivals

You do not exist in a vacuum. You don’t do business in a vacuum either. Before you ventured into the market, substitutes existed. Your customers did not magically materialize just when your product/service hit the shelves. Who is your competition? What are the strengths and flaws of their product/service? What are their price points? Who do they market to, how do they market it and what’s their distribution model? What is their market share? What are they doing right or wrong? So yes, we know that you are in competition with yourself- to be better and constantly evolve, but let’s face it, if you ignore the competition, it’s your own loss.

Understand Your SWOT

As the icing on the cake, armed with the information gathered so far, carry out an honest SWOT analysis on your product/service. Draw out a comprehensive list of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Using the PESTEL analysis method (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal factors) also helps you be as detailed as possible


If you follow these guidelines as faithfully as you can, you would know if you should go ahead and launch, take a step back to revise your product/service or even possibly think of a whole new idea.

Is there something else that worked for you before you launched?  Share in the comment section.

April 24, 2018

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