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?
The answers to all your questions will vary greatly based on the specific business in question. Getting a business advisor, ideally someone with some real experience in your space, would be the most valuable "next step". See if you can't identify some candidates in your space and chat with them, they may not be interested or able to help but may have contacts that would fit the bill.
Thank you for your time and advice. Though I was not aware of the names, you are correct. I am actually at the point where I am beginning the marketing portion, so your advise is well timed. Thank you!
Hi Arne. Thank you for your time and sage advice. I do have a strategic marketing plan in play, and a team in place, however, I am bootstrapping this project to avoid finding financing. Does it matter when you bring a co-founder on board? We are getting close to launching the product. Is it too late to find a co-founder? Kind regards, Elysia