I have a basic outline for my business plan, and I am currently researching my pitch deck. I keep trying to figure out what my next steps are after, creating a prototype, filing a provisional patent, figuring out costs and profit margins, creating websites, social media, advertising, etc, however, I keep missing the mark. I know there is a need for my product. It does fill a void. But, what is my next step? Do I need an advisor, or maybe a co-founder? If my goal is to have a successful seed, what should my next steps be so that I can move forward in my business plan?
You have done everything right. But you need to identify who will purchase your product and start trying to contact them directly. A business starts with the sale. Everything else follows. You have to get the first olive out of the jar. After that, the rest will be easier. Giving away a sample, if feasible for your product, may get you in the door.
When I started my business, I literally knocked on doors until I got the first sale. It took me a month of doing nothing else. Then I had a reference, and the next sale came faster. Plus, you will have valid feedback and be able to correct any errors or omissions.
Getting customers and talking to customers will give you invaluable information. They will give you every objection and you will learn how to overcome them. People buy when you take the their pain away, ie: solve a problem for them. Look at it from that point of view.
Seriously practice your pitch with friends. Practice in front of the mirror. You learn sales...you are not born with it. Let you friends give you all the reasons they shouldn't buy your product. Then you will become prepared to show the customer their pain, then take it away.
It is good that you have started the process. If you truly believe in your product and you are wanting to move it forward, you should take care of the legal part first. That is if you want to go the conservative route. Sure you can throw it all out there as some people have suggested. That’s a good way to lose your IP by someone who actually understands entrepreneurial law. In one of the other discussions someone stated “you don’t need a business plan for yourself anyway..its only for investors.” Probably some of the most near sighted advice I have read in these forums. A business plan is first and foremost for YOU, the entrepreneur. It allows you to think out your business, and will answer most if not ALL of your initial questions. As for pitch decks. People in this forum seem to love them..in the wrong order. Depending on what you are pitching maybe you could skip the plan….but what happens when an investor sees your pitch deck and asks “What are your expenses?” or “What is your projected year to year growth” or more simple, “who is your target market?” “What is the target marget demographic?” What happens when they ask you, “What is the best price per square foot for rent of the building?” and you don’t know the answer. Or what happens when they say “What quotes have you gotten on manufacturing, and cost per part for the mold?” Or “What is your cost for a software developer.” If you are pitching to potential partners you may not need to answer all those questions if they 1. Love your product, or 2. Are more inexperienced. Any top tier advisor or business partner will want to see your plan put together, because serious investors want to see that you are not part of the hip new “im an entrepreneur” world. Anyone can say they are an entrepreneur, the time it takes to put together a plan is a first step to portray you are serious.
Shoot me an email and I can give you an example of some of the questions you should answer in different parts of the business plan that will give you more insight. Stay open and honest with yourself and you will keep progressing!
I am in the exact position you are in. I just started participating in an incubator program to get that help you've mentioned. My advisor has recommended I find at least 1 co-founder (if not 2) within the next 2 months. There are a couple of people I could recommend you speak with for guidance. Let's connect on linkedin and i can do the introductions for you. Best of luck with your product and journey!
Thank you to everyone who has answered my questions. There is so much information in your responses, which leads to more questions. Before I ask any new questions or for clarifications though, I want to write down your responses and really consider them so that I can assess what I have already accomplished, or am in the process of doing, and was not sure when or how to go about it.
Again, thank you so much for your time and valuable input. I really appreciate your feedback.
Customers!! I would have said that even before you did all those things, but especially now. Don't take another step in product development until you have talked to a dozen customers whose problems are painful enough that they will pay for the prototype, or pay an advance to have you finish it. If they aren't desperate enough to do that, you may not be solving a painful enough problem.
You didn't say it in your initial posting/question, but can you clarify what type of product you will be making/selling? Also, what is your goal, 1) to license the invention or, 2) to manufacture it as a lifestyle business or, 3) manufacture it to become a corporate behemoth?
If it is software related (like most people on this site) then follow the majority of the opinions already stated. However, if you are planning to make/sell a consumer product then ignore anybody from this site who tells you to go talk to customers. They are just regurgitating someone else's methodology. If you are making a consumer product, you are no longer selling, you are marketing (to the masses). Do thorough market research. If the market isn't very large, you'll be making it yourself, because nobody will license it.
Be very, very careful with your Intellectual Property (IP). Before you disclose your idea to ANYBODY, make them sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). If you don't and your invention is a good as you think it is, you're giving someone the opportunity to design around your idea before you even get to market.
The easy part was your invention but you still need to commercialize it. Nowe comes the hard work, but you're on the right path just by asking for help. In addition to using SCORE, also check with your local Small Business Administration (SBA) office AND start looking for people that are in the same (or very similar) market segment as your product. SCORE and the SBA are going to give you general business advise, but it's the experts that will help you focus the nagging details that only someone in your market segment will be able to foresee. Good luck!
Hi Elysia -- this is an interesting conversation. Is your patent issued? also, what are you looking to achieve?
Create a road map to help you identify your milestones and when you must achieve them; it will help you also understand what you need and when.
If you have a business plan you have a vision, attached a 3-5 year goal to it and a due date (call it milestone X). Once you have identified that 3-5 yr milestone, create smaller milestones for years 4, 3, 2, 1 making sure that achieving one will lead you to the next one, the focus on year 1 and break it down into trimesters then monthly, then weeks and you will have a road map. It is ideal that you understand your space and do not make unrealistic assumptions, consider worse case scenarios and do not stop learning about what is happening in the industry.
During execution you focus on the first trimester measuring weekly results and comparing with the milestone to keep making it more accurate. Both business plans and road-maps should be live documents.
Simultaneously, understand who your ‘buyer persona’ is (Google it if you are not sure what it means). Find those people, reach out and begin selling right away, paying customers is the ultimate validation and will help you learn and understand how to keep building a valuable product
Thirdly, It doesn’t have to be perfect, start right now, do not wait, and do not hesitate, be selective with who you listen to and become a good filter of noise. Stay focus, get the right adviser on board, people with money are not necessarily good advisers; find people with experience and good reputation.
Wisdom wishes for you,
From what I understand you have not launched you product in the market yet.
My suggestion is make a calculation how much time you need to be market-ready. Set that date as deadline. Now from that date work a plan backwards of all the stuff you need to do to respect the launch date.
If you feel that you cant handle all the tasks by yourself a co-founder will be very helpful to you. Consider someone which has different skills from yours.
Patent, then register as an LLC or incorporate as an S-Corp. Then go out into the market. Downside-attorney cost and time. Downside of not first building a foundation...6 months down the line you google your product and find out that someone else stole your idea and shielded it with a legal paper trail.