Company Stages

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A company growth period from conception to whatever the eventual end point may take a number of years. The stages of a company can be broken down into many parts. The first stage is the planning stage.

The Company Planning Stage

You face your first set of business challenges during the planning stage. This is when you are thinking about the product, the company, etc. Here are some important questions to consider when evaluating a concept company or a business idea:

1) What is the product? Is it needed in the world?
2) Who is the target customer? What are the behavior patterns of the target consumers, and will they like to use the product in the way that I am thinking about making the product?
3) Can the target customer easily be marketed to?
4) How can money be made from the product or service I am considering? Is this business model viable?
5) Do you as the founder of this business add any competitive advantage? Do you have expertise or connections that might help this business?
6) Are you able to build the product that is necessary? Or will the product require investment funds? If the company requires investment to reach success, will you able to raise it?
7) If you will need investment, is the target market big enough to satisfy the investors?

There are many more such considerations and we go through many of them throughout our apps. The idea is to make sure they all align with each other. Sometimes one part of the strategy needs to be changed, and that causes many of the other parts of the strategy to no longer work.

In the planning stage, the goal is to think through, and gain a deep understanding of every facet of your company and the strategy, and evaluate whether the whole plan is viable and to answer the question of whether the business idea good or not. Sometimes identifying or not identifying a key part of the strategy can lead to success of failure years later. Foresight is the key during the business planning stage. Here are a few pages that teach you to think about your product, your marketing, investors, and more

Here is a video on how to get business ideas in case you are looking for new business ideas.

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Validating Your Idea Cheaply

Once you have thought through the idea, and still like the idea, it might seem that the next step is to go ahead and create that product or start providing that service. But that often requires substantial capital. So if you want to minimize your risk, some practical things to do are:

1) Talk to as many people about your idea as possible and get their opinions
2) Reach out to people who work in the industry, or even for competitors, and try to get their opinions or knowledge about the industry without giving away too much information
3) Do market research, industry projections research, and competitor research
4) Try your business idea at a small scale. For example, if you have a food product, try to sell it from a cart or at fairs to get a sense for the demand. If you have a physical product, try to sell it at small stores before you have tens of thousands manufactured. This will give you real world sales metrics on which you can base future decisions. That is significantly better than basing big financial decisions on theory.

Validating Your Business Idea In The Market

The next stage after you have a solid plan is to turn that plan from theory to reality. The question now becomes one of how to put the first version of the product out in front of real users and see how they respond to the product or service.

First you must build a founding team which can create the first version of your product or enable whatever service you are planning to provide. Here, Eric Ries is the thought leader on how to bring the minimum viable product (MVP) to market. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, it may be a good idea to read up on it as his theories are highly effective and respected.

The great thing about the minimum viable product is that it focuses on bringing the product to market sooner rather than later. Of course, while focusing on the minimal part, do not forget the part about the viable product. They go together.

Once you have your minimum viable product (MVP) in front of users or customers, you can see how it performs in the real world. If users love it, that is great. If they do not, you can learn why they do not love it, and make consistent improvements to your product until they like it better. The beauty of the MVP model is that it enables you to iterate quickly while learning the most about how your users react to your product or service.

Just continue improving your offering and refining your product strategy until it becomes great and starts growing, or you realize the market has rejected your approach. Either way, you took the plunge from theory to reality and found out the answers to all your questions.

If you have proven the theoretical concept by putting the product out into the market and the market accepted it, it becomes a little easier for you to get an investment if that is something that you feel you want because it might benefit your business.

Here are some additional ways to determine whether your business idea is right for you.

Starting The Business

When you are ready to start a business, you need to consider how you will market it in order to get clients, how you will raise money, and how you will ultimately achieve success with your business and what business success will mean for you. There are many things you will need to think about and work on such as making sure you can earn sufficient profit and revenue, hire the right employees, raise the money you need, market the business effectively, and much more. You will encounter these challenges shortly after you start your business and they will remain your challenges throughout the next stages of your business as you grow your company.

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Further Business Idea Resources

For more on evolving and perfecting business ideas, take a look at the work of Eric Ries and Steve Blank, and the learn startup movement.

Article by Alex Genadinik