Coming up with a business idea is just the start of the long road to achieving business success. You may have defined a business idea, but now you must see if you can turn this into a profitable idea. Conducting a sound research study to see if there is a profitable market for your product or service is a good start. However, what sets those businesses apart that go on to achieve dramatic and life-changing success?
You may remember the film depicting the trials and tribulations of the career of Steve Jobs who firmly established Apple as one of the leading global companies. Similar stories also lie behind the fortunes of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook. So what lessons can we glean?
Innocent Drinks represents a very useful case study. Friends Adam Balon, Jon Wright and Richard Reed all looked to bright futures after leaving Cambridge University – one working in advertising and the other two with positions as management consultants. They identified a gap in the market for a new type of smoothie drink based on natural ingredients supported within company promoting ethical values.
They then set up a stall at a music festival to try their ideas – they left the decision whether or not to start a business in the hands of the customers at the festival. A sign above the stall read “shall we give up our jobs to make these smoothies”? One bin read ‘Yes’ and one ‘No’. Customers made their decision by throwing their empty bottles in either bin. They then wrote their business plan 11 times and searched everywhere for funding. The result: Innocent Drinks made its first million in its second year and now sells two million smoothies a week, with a 75% UK market share. In 2009, Coca Cola paid nearly £100million for a 58% stake.
A similar example is found with honey salesman Burt Shavitz who decided to make some extra cash from making candles from Beeswax. By the end of the first year they had sales of $20,000 – not nearly enough to sustain their business. One day he decided he had enough – he had arrived home and the window in his cabin had blown in and snow was all over. He then decided to change his approach and the breakthrough came when he started cooking up natural soaps and perfumes on gas stoves, while also making lip balm made from bees wax. In 2009, Burt’s Bees hit its 25th. anniversary with a revenue topping $250 million.
So what lessons can be leaned from these examples and those of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Apple and Facebook?
Don’t Underestimate the Amount Involved
Success will come through plenty of hard work and application. Being good at what you do may make you technically proficient, but this won’t necessarily help you to achieve success. To do this you will also need a knowledge of all areas of the business mix and how these all work together to achieve sustainable, profitable growth. These areas are: marketing, sales, operations, finance, legal, HR and IT.
Face Problems Head On – and Face Your Fears
It may need you to try areas of work that are new or ‘foreign’ to you. If you don’t like tackling finance or sales issues – maybe its time to try. You need to know what the problems are in each area so you can plan accordingly. Remember not to abdicate any of these areas – delegate instead and ensure you receive regular feedback.
Take an Iterative Approach
The best way to start any business is to start small and then build once you establish the right formula for success. Some will want to have a complete plan in place before starting – the trouble with this is that you will not be aware of all the problems until you start. So take baby steps. This will ensure that you get the formula right first before you start to expand.
Many entrepreneurs will have a multitude of different activities and commitments in place at any one time, resulting in a lack of time to concentrate on issues at hand. Many do jump from idea to idea with no real commitment. So the key is to strip back on all commitments and keep focused on the job at hand.
The stories of failure rates are so daunting, it is surprising why anyone should eveer wish to ever start out in business. What is evident is that many give up too early just when the going gets tough. Those that succeed remain determined and focused even in the face of severe obstacles. There could be no greater exponent of this approach than Steve Jobs at Apple.
Keep a Sense of Balance in Your Life
Whilst you may find that business starts to take over, don’t be so fully absorbed you lose sight of what is important around you, namely your own lifestyle and family life. It can be all too easy to find that important family events get missed and life gets put on the back burner while you concentrate on the problems at work. Make sure you keep as sense of balance in your life as this will keep you energised to deal with your challenges at work.
Keep Learning – Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Any action should be part of a learning process where you constantly fine tune what is needed to achieve the best result. Don’t you or your team keep on making the same mistakes again and again. Make sure you track your progress and have measures in place to ensure you can keep on learning from what you do.
Whilst you cannot guarantee that by following these seven keys you can be another Steve Jobs, in following this approach it will help you to take their lessons of what worked for them, and to put these into action, to help you find out what works for you. Of course, we would also say that you also need some expert business advice from ICON Business Solutions, but this we will leave down to you!
In any event, good luck.