What You Can Do With Just an Idea

Written by: Abdo Riani , Founder of StartupCircle.co and AspireIT.

The only responsibility of entrepreneurs , especially at the beginning of a business venture, is to guess right. An idea is nothing more than an educated guess. The problem is that assumptions, especially if they’re wrong, are often very costly. Imagine spending months and thousands of dollars building a product only to find no one uses it or cares. Imagine where else the time and money could have gone.

Most entrepreneurs, including myself when I started, take a risky and costly business execution approach. We either hit it right, not necessarily always big, or guess wrong, and fail. Today, I want to share with you a business execution approach that will help you get it right most of the time. The process is quick and involves a much lower if any, initial investment.

The Idea Process and Taking It to Market:

Plan your go-to market strategy under the condition of the unavailability of the product. In other words, consider a scenario where you want to launch a technology startup (web or mobile) app, but you are not allowed to build the app. How would you go about it?

Consider a scenario where you want to open a restaurant, but you are not allowed to use a restaurant location in town just yet. How would do it?

Consider another scenario where you want to sell a new design for an e-commerce product, but you are not allowed to manufacture it yet. How would you do it?

Before we discuss the HOW, here’s the WHY:

Most businesses fail because no one or not enough people need the product/solution. Additionally, building the product is usually the costliest part of the execution in terms of time and money. First, you want to make sure you’re going to hit it right before moving forward.

How to Move Your Idea Forward:

1. Identify key stakeholders

  • Decide who is involved in a business transaction.
  • In the first scenario above, if you use the idea of food on demand, the key stakeholders are the restaurant, app user, and driver.
  • In the second scenario, it’s the cook, food supplier and customers (buyers).
  • In the third scenario, it’s the manufacturer, distributor, and customer.
  • 2. Define the end goal of key stakeholders

  • A restaurant doesn’t care how the food orders come through. A web app, mobile app, over the phone or in person orders are all welcome. They are more concerned with the quantity and the cash coming in.
  • A buyer is interested in ordering food. While an app can make it easier, the end goal is to get the food ordered and delivered on time.
  • A driver doesn’t care how they receive the order as long as they get their job of delivering the food done, and also get paid for their time.
  • In the second scenario, a cook may find a commercial kitchen convenient. But the end goal is to make the food and get paid for it no matter the style of preparation.
  • A food supplier doesn’t care about the location of food delivery as long as orders arrive.
  • If a customer desires a specialty type of food, they could consider a convenient nearby restaurant. But, the end goal is to eat and enjoy the food.
  • In the third scenario, a manufacturer and distributor look for recurring business while a customer wants what they see advertised.
  • 3. Get the job done

    Before investing resources in creating what you believe is the perfect product, first, take time to get the job done under the condition of the unavailability of the product.

    Related: Are You Chasing Money in the Wrong Places?

    How to Improve Desire for Your Idea:

    In the first scenario:

  • Virtually and physically distribute menu flyers to households in the region. Add your phone number for ordering.
  • Take the order over the phone, deliver it yourself or assign it to a teammate.
  • When you have enough requests, reinvest the gain to create the app to scale instead of starting with the app.
  • For an extra layer of validation, offer 50% off to the first 20 deliveries if they pre-pay upfront.
  • The payment will give you extra income to reinvest into product development.
  • In the second scenario:

    Before leasing a location, knock on doors and share samples of your food. Visit businesses and do the same to make sure people are interested in what you’re offering.

  • Pre-sell meals at a discount and ask for recommendations from your pre-buyers.
  • Make the food at home and deliver it yourself.
  • Reinvest the gains into a prime location in town.
  • In the third scenario:

  • Before making any investment to manufacture the product, design a prototype and share it online and offline to seek feedback and pre-orders.
  • Build it after they’ve purchased it.
  • None of these scenarios and countless others require a significant financial investment if any at all. All you need is to adopt this business execution mindset and hustle. Here’s how this approach helped me build my businesses.

    EntrePerks includes over $23,000 in combined offers from some of the best products in the market. Before building EntrePerks, I simply knew that the end goal of the partners offering the discounts is to get people to use their products. The purpose of the user is to get different discounts. All I had to do was match the two through email. After pre-selling six premium memberships to EntrePerks, I had enough proof to build the current website.

    The Bootstrap a Startup Program , guides entrepreneurs for six straight months and provides them with the needed resources to learn and master this bootstrapping execution approach with a focus on pre-selling their product or service ideas before building anything.

    Related: Do You Break the Rules As Needed?

    Before creating the modules for the program, I opened enrollment and only invested time and money to create the modules when ten entrepreneurs joined.

    In one of my first ventures where I rewarded users for their eco-friendly actions, I pre-sold recycling facilities at $2,000 in monthly recurring revenue before building the web app. I manually (over email and a simple landing page) matched users with recycling facilities and updated their points every time they recycled.

    Other strategies such as exchanging products and services with suppliers and manufacturers, negotiating win-win deals and delaying payments helped me minimize business risk even more and go to market a lot faster under limited to no budget.

    Right now, I invite you to learn more about how conditioning your execution on the unavailability of the product or funding will help you build products and services people pay for and use. If you’re interested in learning more, join me here .