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The Lab: Five-steps for taking your idea from seed concept to market
In this article I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned about the business launch path while building The Lab for sixty:forty.
If you want to master the idea generation and execution process then this is the place for you. There is a lot of competition out there, that’s for sure. But I believe that this creates an even greater opportunity for you to start a business based upon your idea.
This is a ‘shiny-object’ free zone. We will only be giving you the bare facts and this is all great information. We will tell you later about our Lab Course because in there is the stuff that will shorten your learning and application curve. After doing the course you’ll be able to get done in a few short hours what would otherwise take days .. or even weeks.
Let’s begin with the 5 steps to take your idea from concept to market:
This step is all about you. You need to be totally honest with yourself about the skills you bring to the table and what you understand about your values. What powers you to get up in the morning?
Have an Idea
(a.k.a. The Idea)
It all starts with the spark of an idea, about finding new ways of doing things. New ways that will make things easier, faster or better than what currently exists. It is about how to discover hidden growth opportunities and how to create products and services that people actually want to buy. It’s not the idea that counts, its about turning that idea into something that creates value for customers or clients and captures value for your new business.
Investigate the Idea
(a.k.a. The Lab)
Define the terms of your business by working through 24 questions covering 5 core areas so that you can ensure the big things in your business model are clear and well thought out.
Build the Prototype
(a.k.a. The MVP)
Learn the skills and techniques that you can use to brief your project effectively. Just as importantly, you’ll learn how to validate your idea through experimentation. This step also gives you access to our faculty members .. whose wide experience ranges from customer validation experiments to UX/UI design to building digital or physical prototype and materials design. You can also use this stage to find a technical co-founder or startup mentor through your Lab Listing.
Kick off the Idea
(a.k.a. The Launch)
This is all about bringing your business idea to life. We provide structured training that gives you the knowledge, skills and access to networks to make it happen.
Move through these steps and you will be on your way to starting your business. Let’s take a look at these 5 steps in a bit more detail below.
Laying the foundation for your business
Before starting your business journey you need to lay a good foundation. Being in business is hard and there will be a lot of sweat and time that will go into getting it ready.
This might seem like the easiest step of it all – you are fed up with being told what to do and you don’t like the daily grind of having to go to work at a place that you hate… and you know you can do it better.
But are you cut out for your own business? So that you can confidently take the first step on the right path, here are two big questions:
- What do you personally want to achieve?
- Why do you want to be in business?
Simple … right? This might look easier than it actually is if you are truly honest with yourself.
A common answer to question #2 is Freedom. This could be Time, Location or Financial. Time Freedom means being able to do what you want when you want to. It might be that you prize Location Freedom, so that you have the ability to work where you want. Or you might be seeking Financial Freedom. Maybe the ultimate goal is to have all three.
But, in answering these questions, we are asking you specifically about what they mean to you?
You might never have actually been asked before about what you want to personally achieve or what you dream about. Awareness of what you aspire to often gets lost in the hundreds of other things that come up in day to day life. The purpose here is discover what really drives you and why.
Why do you want to be in business? This question builds off your personal goals and asks you to think about how these goals will be satisfied by being in business. This might seem a little ‘fluffy’ – but when you are working in harmony with your larger personal goals, it is amazing what can be achieved. If you are in a leadership position, a major factor in determining your success will be whether you understand what drives you. It doesn’t matter what it is that does it for you, just that there is an underlying passion about what you are doing.
Linking your personal goals to your business objectives might seem strange at first, but what if bringing more of what makes you ‘you’ to the business is the best thing that could happen? You can only do that if you are clear about who you are and what you stand for.
One thing you will learn really quickly about sixty:forty is that we are plain speaking and as open as possible. We are not going to sugar coat anything, we will be straight – being in business can be hard, but here’s what we are going to do about it for you. We are going to show you how to approach launching a business idea in a step by step way.
You are here because you have a dream of owning a business. If you are now more certain of this than ever before, then read on…
Having the Idea
So you have an idea. But is it the right idea? Did you know that 42% of business fail because of a lack of market! Scary right.
What if a little bit more work on your idea takes it from marginal and a hard slog …. and turns it into something fantastic and right on point?
There are a lot of gurus out there who tell that to really ‘make it’ you have to start in a niche. But what does that even mean? How do you choose your niche? How do you know it is the right niche? We can show you a number of tools that you can quickly use to test this.
You don’t want to put all of your energy, effort and money into an idea that is not likely to go anywhere. So, what do you do?
You come and join us in the Idea Incubator. This is a special place inside the Lab called The Idea. Here we get you to take a deep-dive into your idea. We show you how to pull it apart, look at the job that you are looking to achieve for your customer and help you identify what happens before and after the ‘job’ to see if there are better ways to get things done.
Ideally you want to discover the best way to determine the value you bring to the market. Then, in one sentence, you can perfectly position your product or service and give your ideal customers exactly what they want.
You recognise the opportunity or challenge and then look at solutions that will solve the problem. Remember:
“The day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea” – Peter Diamandis
So now you have an awesome idea, where to next?
You Test it in The Lab
What is the Lab? The Lab by sixty:forty is a place where you document your idea into an easy to use, straight forward framework where you can then see at a glance whether you have thought out the big parts of your business model.
The five core things that you decide on as part of the Lab include:
This is where you describe what your business is all about, what problem it solves, who it solves it for and define what the solution actually is.
Review the external operating environment. Make an Assessment of the size of the market that you are looking to reach. Undertake industry analysis to identify the key trends and discover what competition already exists in your space.
How you intend to reach your market?
Who are the members of your team? What drives them? And what unique skills sets do they have that will contribute to the success of the venture?
5. Profit Formula
This is all about how you intend to make money out of your idea. Even a not-for-profit or social enterprise still needs money coming in the door.
You can come back and revisit your project, as you refine your thoughts around the core 5 factors. Think of the development of your business model as a set of dials or levers that you are forever adjusting and tuning in order to optimise the outcome. You will develop hypothesis from your assumptions, test them, acknowledge the learnings and move on to the next phase. This ability to always learn and grow will enable you to nurture your business model and scale it into a profitable and thriving enterprise.
The testing part comes in where you can post your idea as a Lab Listing. This is completely optional, you will have already made gains simply through the process of working through The Lab. If you do choose to post your idea, it will become a Lab Listing. Your lab project gets reviewed by registered professional providers who will ‘rate’ your idea based on the five key criteria – The Opportunity, Market, Sales, the People and the Profit Formula. The Provider will also have the chance to provide constructive feedback about your idea.
Whether you are a first time business owner or an old hand, the sixty:forty Lab Course is a training program that gives you the essential skills to start, build and grow your idea. This Course is run online and on-demand, which means you can do it from the comfort of your own home at a time that suits you. Or you can come and meet others starting out in their journey by joining in at an in person Workshop. A Virtual Workshop will be held each quarter for those who can’t make it in person.
What does it cost?
Believe it or not, it is FREE. That’s right, to go through the Lab questions on the sixty:forty platform is 100% FREE.
But (of course, there’s a but…) if you want to get the most out of The Lab process then we would recommend that you look at doing either the Lab Course or the Lab Workshop. This structured training shows you how to take your idea and really move it to the next level. We guide you through each of the 24 questions that cover off on the 5 core topics that you need to succeed in The Lab.
To really maximise your investment in The Lab then you can also take a look at the Lab MVP and Lab Launch courses. These are cohort-based and run each three months.
What’s in it for sixty:forty?
We get to meet our mission of creating a world where people successfully start, build, manage or grow their small business in a way that leads to a meaningful and prosperous life for themselves, their team members and their wider community.
We can only do that if we help you successfully launch your idea. The key word here is ‘successfully’. There is no point in rushing your idea to market or launching an idea that doesn’t have a clear demonstrated market need. We hope to challenge your thinking. Sometimes you might find this a little uncomfortable … but it is all done with the goal of giving your new business a greater chance of success. Nothing is guaranteed though, and that is part of the fun of being in business.
There are however a number of steps that you can take that will maximise the likelihood that you do succeed. These are all built on the experience of those who have gone before you, achieved self made status and who contribute their time back to our community.
Ultimately, we want you to become a member of sixty:forty. You can join with others in this journey of small business ownership. In our community you get to learn about things that are working in small business, to network, to bounce ideas off other members or with professionals, to make offers and to take up opportunities.
Where to from here?
So, now you’re ready .. You’ve got the outline of how you need to approach taking your idea and turning it into a reality and how to shortcut the process using the Lab.
Your first question is there ready and waiting for you. Just click here to sign up now.
We can’t wait to hear your ideas…
PS .. If you do have any questions or comments then please share these with Pablo (our little Office Bot to the right) and we’ll see how we can help.
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