What is a concept? Good question. I answer it this way: What you are trying to do and how you are trying to do it. People start with a good idea and sometimes begin the process of opening a business without properly developing the idea to the point where it makes sense to start. You need a business plan and the business plan is based on the concept. Development of your concept is an exercise that you have to go through. By doing so you are ensuring that your idea has ‘legs’.
Close your eyes and explain what is happening in your small business a year from now. “What the?” you may ask; but hold on here. This is what I am asking you to do. Answer questions like these ones. It is a Tuesday in February of next year:
What are you doing at 10 in the morning?
How about 5 in the evening?
What color is on the walls?
How many workers are on the floor?
What are they wearing?
How many customers do you have?
What are they buying?
How much are they paying?
By going through this exercise you will fully develop your concept to the point where you will eventually be able to know how many people you have to hire, how big a space you need to rent, what products you need and in what amount, and who you want to attract as customers. Think for a minute. You cannot write a business plan unless you have all the answers before you begin.
You can then take this valuable information and build your financial forecast with it. Once you have your concept worked out, go and try it on for size with some people who will give you objective feedback. Don’t go to your neighbour or brother-in-law because they may say things like: “I knew a guy who tried that and it failed.” It may be that they are jealous and are scared that you might succeed in your venture and they are terrified. Instead go and search out people who are entrepreneurs with loads of experience. Look for the white hair and wrinkles. They’ve made the mistakes you’ll make if you don’t listen to them. Got it?
After getting solid feedback go back and tweak your concept and then give it a go again. By going through this process you’ll be able to clearly define your concept and get closer to turning your idea into an actual business. People who have clearly defined concepts usually succeed more than those who just “wing it”. The difference? The ones that succeed have a business plan and the business plan is based around a well thought-out concept.
And remember, if your idea is not well received – lingerie and bait shop? – abandon it and look at something new. Never and I mean never ever go ahead without having received positive feedback about your idea. Listen, please.