How To Get Your Great Idea Rolling Into A Real Business
We all have at least one friend that spends a lot of time talking about their ‘great idea’ but, after stalling for a year or longer, is left with regret they didn’t make a move sooner because a similar business started before they ever got around to it.
Taking those first crucial steps isn’t easy and many fall into the trap of thinking you need everything in place to get the ball rolling.
But there are several Aussie start-ups that began with nothing more than an idea, as well as a founder that was willing to take the crucial first steps.
Urissa Chinia from LoveSmiles had the idea to develop a teeth whitening kit made from activated coconut shell and including a natural biodegradable bamboo toothbrush.
“My plan was for my business to not only help reduce your plastic footprint, but also contribute to more gum trees in Australia and supporting our efforts to support injured wildlife,” Chinia said.
First, Chinia set about researching the existing market of the teeth whitening industry. Then, she developed a solution to solve an ongoing environmental problem; the impact on the environment of plastic toothbrushes.
“I developed a proper business plan which outlined all of my thoughts. Then I had professional advice in areas that I wasn’t knowledgeable about. I had products tested and certified to meet all regulations and standards,” Chinia said.
“Then I let people test products and provide informative reviews. I’m learning how to improve and taking constructive feedback with a open heart! I’ve also had to decide which organisation to support and align with that matched my core values. It’s also about creating new ideas and content to get my message out to the public.”
Deb Morrison had the idea for PetCloud when she struggled to find a local pet minder for her dog when she was away.
“‘I started to think, ‘Surely I’m not the only one, this has got to be online!’ and that’s how it started,” Morrison told HuffPost Australia.
PetCloud matches pet owners with local pet lovers who can mind your pet while you’re on holiday, or take your four-legged friend for a walk. It’s been officially endorsed by the RSPCA.
“When you get a good idea for a business, my advice is to build your business with the big vision in mind. Planning and preparation is key. Capture the increased traffic with the right technology so that they come back and turn into long term customers.”
Finding a core team was an initial obstacle. Morrison assumed that just because she had IT contacts, she’d have no trouble finding someone. But everyone in her network was tied up.
“I then decided I needed to find a team overseas through freelancer.com. The next step was making sure I prototyped the entire site first. This helped to make communication clear and speed up development. The team successfully built the first iteration of PetCloud to the point where it was both functional and transactional.”
Sarah Pearce had the idea for her business Travelshoot when she was holidaying in New York and a photographer friend took some professional snaps, that she loved.
That gave her the idea of a business connecting travellers with local photographers around the world. Pearce told HuffPost Australia the first and most important step was research.
“I spent about six months ensuring I could validate there would be interest in the product given it was new to market. I had focus groups, talking with our target consumers, and I also partnered with a local university and had about 80 marketing students help me with market research and a pricing strategy,” Pearce said.
“Only after this period did I spend money on the business in the website and legally setting up our business structure. Creating a demand for an entirely new product has a bigger risk profile, so I really invested a lot of time in the research phase.”
Pearce advises others to speak to several customer prospects about your concept.
“Many people don’t like to hear feedback at the conceptual stage because they’ve sold themselves on an assumed business need, but it can save you a huge amount of time and money to get that feedback as early on as possible.”
As a young girl in Port Macquarie, NSW, Pirra Griffiths spent much of her life in her bikini. So it was no surprise she wanted to start up her own swimwear label. But her big idea was to create swimwear that was environmentally and ethically produced.
Her label Allerton uses innovative Italian fabric, made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets. Having studied fashion design at UTS, Griffiths completed a small business course and worked for some major swimwear labels.
“My first step was lots and lots of research; you need to know that you are actually solving a problem and that there is a market for your product. Research the market, competitors, suppliers, manufacturers as well as trends and sourcing the very best fabrics,” Griffiths.
Griffiths also did a lot of product development, testing the pieces I had designed and perfecting the fit. She also wrote a solid business plan and developed great relationships with suppliers and manufacturers.
“I work really closely with machinists, factories and fabric suppliers who all work together to help develop and produce the best product properly,” Griffiths said.
“Starting a business is a big job, you need to be prepared to work 24/7 on it and the only way you can do that, is to love what you do and believe in what you are doing.”