How to get clear about your startup idea

The pandemic has forced so many people to reconsider their choices.

While so many companies had to lay off their employees, many employees are re-evaluating their options. This has led to what we now call the ‘great resignation’. The ‘Great Resignation‘ is a term coined by Organizational Psychologist, Anthony Klotz.

According to an article by Business Insider, nearly 3% of the workforce quit in August, with 4.3 million people throwing in the towel.

What this means is that more people have taken the path of entrepreneurship.

So, I decided to write this article to remind aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners what they need to know if they consider starting a business at any time. 

Starting a new business is exciting and can also be complicated. It is like building a house from its foundation, unsure when it will be completed before the owners move into it. However, starting a business comes with its benefits — it brings you fulfilment, puts you in the driver’s seat of your life, and gives you the freedom to support yourself, your family and your community.

As a serial entrepreneur who has launched several businesses and mentored over 100 startups and entrepreneurs, I want to share my knowledge and wisdom on how to get clear about what business to start.

Get clarity about what business to start.

The clearer you are about the type of business you want to launch, the easier it will be to attract the right customers. To achieve clarity, you must answer these six questions:


  1. What is your purpose for starting? The obvious answer to this might be to survive, earn an income to support yourself and your family, maintain a particular lifestyle, and so on. Successful business founders always focus on solving problems and creating value in society. In my case, I launched Ataro Foods when I saw that West African cuisine was missing on the world food map. I wanted to bring this cuisine to the people of the Netherlands so that they could experience African culture through food. In the same vein, I started Rise and Lead when I couldn’t find a network that supports ambitious female leaders like me, so we could quickly rise and close the gender gap. So, what is your purpose for starting a business?


  1. Who needs what you want to offer? Who is your primary target audience? Who are your customers?. Because you want customers who need the solution that your product provides, your idea needs to provide a solution. Your idea needs to relieve people of their pain. For example, when I launched Ataro Foods in the Netherlands, I wasn’t sure what my idea was solving for my ideal customers. I thought about it for a long time and decided to sell my concept as an adventure. This decision helped me to target a Dutch audience who love to travel and learn about different cultures.


  1. What solution do you want to offer in the market? What is your product or service? What problem is your product or service going to solve, or what value does it add? For example, think about what your customers are complaining about at this time. What can you provide for them? What value can you add that people didn’t know they needed? I always tell people that when I started Ataro, it wasn’t as if we were solving a significant problem for people. When we started, almost 90% of the people didn’t know anything about West African food. Of course, they could live without it. But I had to package it so that my ideal customers would see the need to understand our different cultures and understand the people and the food.


  1. How do you want to position your product or services? How do you want to compete, and how much money do you want to earn? Then, think about how you want to stand out in the market. What makes you different?. What is your unique value proposition? The small business world is crowded. How do you plan to stand out and attract your clients? Write this down.


  1. What is your vision? I’m talking about both personal vision and business vision. What do you want in your life and how can your business help you to achieve it? This becomes a driving force to help you become successful so that even when things are not going well, you will hold onto that dream until you achieve it. What is your business vision? This is a picture of what your business will look like when it’s fully developed. What will your business look like? How many people will be working in your company? Where will it be located? How many branches will it have? How do your employees interact with your customers? What is the projected yearly revenue and profit in the 1st, 2nd…… and 5th year? I always compare this phase in business development to building the foundation of a house. The foundation is an essential structure of any building. How you design it determines how high the building can go. Unfortunately, this phase is most often ignored, especially when you are anxious to bring in cash.


  1. How will you validate your idea? You could start by sending out surveys to assess people’s level of interest or ask your ideal clients what exactly they need. You could also start by offering a webinar to check the level of interest or just making an unconditional offer to see how many people are willing to pay for what you are creating. Whatever the case, pick up your phone, call your friends, and invite people who you think your product can serve. Don’t wait until you’re ready before you start selling. Start immediately because you need to know how your product will be accepted in the market before you make any big investment of time and money. At this point, get ready to refine your idea if it doesn’t work.

Gaining this clarity will give you the direction to kickstart your business development process and reduce the time and cost of validating your business idea.

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