Step 4 - Build Your First Business

It is finally time to get started and get your hands dirty.
There is no better way for learning then taking action and build up skills along the way.

Find your “passion”

You often hear that you should only do things you’re passionate about. But how do you know what you are passionate about if you just sit around and never take action?

I believe that the only way to find out about your true passion is to start different things and see what you like instead of sitting around and wait for the magical moment to come.

Only if you do things over a longer period of time and go through up and downs you will see if you are truly passionate about it. If you can still persevere in rough times and still have fun doing what you do, you are truly passionate about it.

Yet, passion alone is not enough. It has to solve a greater pain for people in order to become a viable business. You can be passionate about watching movies, but most likely no one will pay you for watching movies all day. You passion must be combined with solving a pain for other people. Only then you will be able to create a business out of it.

Find a gap to fill

“Creating demand is hard. Filling demand is easier.” – Tim Ferriss

At the beginning you should invest some time in researching if there products on the market that are similar to your idea and how the competitive landscape looks like.

A good resource is google, but of course you should also consider platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram because today’s businesses are heavily investing in their presence on social media platforms to reach customers.

If there are similar products
It is good, because it means that there is a market for it. But there will be competition and you have to think about how you can differentiate yourself from the rest.

If there are no similar products
Everyone thinks that it is good if there are no competitors. But you have to ask yourself why? It could mean that there is no market for it. Try to understand the reason and see if your product actually solves a pain that is big enough for people to pay for it.

The google keyword planner is also a great tool that will help you to identify if competition for a keyword is high and what keywords customers are looking for. A great sign is if a keyword has low competition, because the riches are in the niches.

Create a plan

Before starting with the design, you should take a moment to create a rough timeframe for your project, so you have a clear deadline and always keep an eye on the progress and stay focused. Nothing is worse than working on something forever and never getting anything done. The timeframe should include:

Short Term Plan : 1-3 months.
Focus on your weekly outcome and set deadlines after 1 months, 2 months etc.
Your goal must be clear and feasible.

Long Term Plan : 1 – 3 years
If your business goes well, how do you imagine it to be in 1 year? 3 years?
You don’t need to create a detailed plan for it, but you need a long term vision how it can grow in the future which brings me to my next point:

How big is business able to scale? Is it only scaleable with the help of other people? Is it location dependent? What are the dependencies? How can you automate your business? Can you create a whole product ecosystem out of it?
A optimal business is something that doesn’t require you to be there 24/7. Otherwise it becomes a job so think about how you can build the system in a way that it can be self sustaining.

Exit Strategy
How long to you want to proceed until you stop? It is very hard to let your baby die but you have to pull the trigger at some point otherwise you loose money and time. You need to know when it is worth to continue and when to stop.

Build and test quickly

As a designer you should be familiar with this concept of “fail fast and fail often”
Make quick iterations and gather feedback as fast as possible.

If you are creating a digital product, it can be done even more quickly by using prototyping tools such as POP (more design tools in resources).

If you are creating physical products it takes more time and money to prototype. Nevertheless, 3D printing is a powerful way of creating fast prototypes for everyone. I personally used 3D Hubs and Shapeways which worked really well for initial testing.

Important: if you want to get real feedback, then try to test your products with real customers who would actually be really interested. Testing with friends and family are sometimes difficult because

a) your friends and family doesn’t want to hurt you
b) your friends and family might not always be your target group

In both cases feedback wouldn’t be 100% useful.

Build a website

Fake it till you make it. Before going into mass production and development you should set up a website for your product.
Creating traffic to your website is also very hard therefore you should start very early.
The website should be simple and the message should be clear. Your new acquired copywriting skills will come in handy.

You can setup a website using squarespace or wordpress if you are more experienced.

Why a website? Before wasting a ton of money and time, you want to validate your idea first. The first validation was the testing, but now it is about buying or not buying.

You will be able to see how many people would actually click the “Buy” – button which is very helpful to identify if someone just ‘likes’ your product or is willing to ‘pay’ for it .

  • Create an authentic website with a clear statement what your product is and what value it has
  • Create a call to action button for customers to sign up for news, or pre-order
  • Track your traffic with jetpack for wordpress or google analytics
  • Leverage social media channels to promote your product
  • Depending on the product, get in touch with people who are potential customers and present them your idea
  • If your product requires a lot of investment, this is the time where you should look for investors and present it to them
  • Get in touch with bloggers, who potentially can promote your product

Action Steps

coming soon…