In the first part of this article, we shared a series of questions to help you assess your idea: to pinpoint risk factors and confirm (or negate) the feasibility of your project. It’s a thought process that is absolutely essential. Assessing your idea is to a startup as foundations are to a house. Here are the next questions in that series:
6. Who can help you?
Once you have defined your needs and have a clearer picture of where you are going, you will need to draw up an inventory of your networks (both personal and professional). You surely already know people who could help you some way or another. Contact those people right away. Grab a coffee to discuss your project with them and get their feedback. An entrepreneurial project’s success greatly depends on the quality of your professional network. But the support of your friends and family is also important…
Ask around and dig up information to get the help you need. Luxemburg has a number of organizations geared toward entrepreneurship that offer aids, training courses and support programs (House of Entrepreneurship1, nyuko2 with the Impuls program, MESIS3, …). Coworking spaces could be another place to broaden your professional network.
In the beginning, you will need to devote some of your time to networking and taking part in events: make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date (this article can help you with that4, browse the social networks and meetup5 to find new events.
7. Is your project viable on the long-term?
Starting a business is great, but making a living from it is even better! Thinking long and hard about your project’s viability is paramount. The only way to find out whether or not your project will work and you will be able to live from it is to test it (we will go into detail farther along). The main reason businesses fail is a lack of market need. Hence the importance of analyzing your target market and facing your idea up to the environment as soon as possible.
8. What is the state of your market?
A market study will show you whether or not there is a market or a real need for your product or service. The term “market study” can sound scary, but with the help of digital tools, it’s not as painstaking as you might expect. This article6 will shed some light on the issue for you.
A critical part of a market study (and yet another scary term!) is your competition. Rather than seeing it as an outside threat to your project, try to see it as a reality and an opportunity. Instead of starting from scratch, you can use what is already being done on the market as inspiration. Think up ways to do things differently (for example, use a different approach or method, highlight your specific talents, your experience, find a unique communication style…).
9. Who are your customers?
If you’re selling to everyone, you’re not selling anything to anyone! You need to determine the profile of your typical customer upstream, or in other words, segment. Once you have theoretically targeted your clientele, you will need to check it on the ground via interviews.
This site7 can help you learn more about this.
10. How are you going to test your idea/business?
Many project leaders wait for the perfect offer before launching. There’s no point launching a product or service no one wants. Rather than waiting for everything to be perfect, think about how you could test your idea ASAP: for instance, bring together a community, create your own content, build a landing page, etc. This will help you find out if your project is worth investing more time, money and effort.
A business incubator can be an interesting option and a safe opportunity to try out your idea in a real environment. Unfortunately, Luxembourg is still awaiting its first business incubators, but REconomy8 is currently working toward opening a structure to provide legal and administrative hosting.
Here is an interesting article9 on the topic (for those of you who can read French).
And to conclude, a few helpful links to keep moving forward:
- The Practical Guide for Entrepreneurs10 by Bpifrance-Création
- Business Model Canvas11 by Bpifrance-Création
- Validate Your Ideas with the Test Card12 by Wikipreneurs
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