As Christian entrepreneurs, we probably have ten to one hundred new ideas each day. How do we know which ones to keep and which ones to move ahead? Let’s find out.
Entrepreneurs are notorious for having thousands of ideas. That is who we are; it is how God created us. We are God’s idea factory to help make this world a better place.
We are in business to help people and make money. Helping people should always be the first thing we think about in business. I know we must think about the bottom line, but the bottom line is if we don’t help people, we don’t get paid.Businesses help people. The bottom line is if we don't help people, we won't get paid. Click To Tweet
Evaluating a new business ideas
If we are just starting your business, we have a different evaluation process. We want to process the viability of the idea. Basically, we want to see if it can help someone, if they will pay for it and if we can provide the product or services.
We can start simply. Look on Amazon, Google or your local store. Are people currently buying the product or service you want begin? You can tell this by how many varieties there are and the price differential.
We can ramp it up a bit and pull together a focus group. Find a group of people who would likely buy our product or service and show it to them. Get their feedback and don’t take anything personally. They are there to help you make your product better.
Make sure you to take time to differentiate yourself from the competition. I would create a spreadsheet, of just use a paper with columns drawn on it. Write out what the competition offers and how they sell their product or service. Then, you can find a way that you can ‘fill the gaps’ in your industry and stand out as a solid business.
Evaluating ideas for an existing business
If we have an existing business, we must be careful not to leave our success behind to pursue another idea. Anything we add should enhance our business and better help our customers. The worse thing a business owner can do is to start a new division which takes up all the time so that the previous business suffers.
Only start business ideas that enhance what you already do. With that being said, there are times when we need to leave one business to start another. Use wisdom, prayer and guidance from a mentor before making the jump. Ideally, we want to stay in line with our current success.
After you have decided the idea will help your existing business, bring in some of your more consistent customers. Ask them what they think about the new idea. Offer them and incentive for their participation. Getting them in person in a group is the best way to evaluate a new addition to an existing business.
If you cannot get your customers in person, consider a survey. It can be sent through email for virtually no money or sent through the mail inexpensively. Offer and incentive and if you mail it, consider offering a paid return mailing or an online way of completing the survey.
Evaluating Winning Ideas
Once we have gathered information from our select group of participants or research, we must make adjustments based on what we found. These adjustments will tell us again if we can help, if we can be profitable and if we can honestly complete the product or service for our customers with excellence.
Be careful not to try to be too perfect. We want to do our best to honor God by providing quality and excellence, but if we spend so much time developing it, we never ship it. We cannot make money until our customers are able to actually buy our product or services.
I highly suggest creating a ‘break even analysis.’ Basically, figure up how much it will cost to create or produce your product or service, how much you will sell it for and how many customers it will take before it is making a profit. Include the cost of customer acquisition and marketing in your figures so that you have a solid formula to work your new idea.
We talked about a lot of figures and ways to evaluate ideas. This article is meant to be a starting point for your personal research. If we were to sum it up, we would call it ‘due diligence.’ The more informed you are about any idea or business, the better prepared you are to succeed.
Jesus points out in the Bible how we must count our cost before we build our tower. (Luke 14:28) Building a business is tough, but we serve a God who guides us and gives us the ability to persevere.
One last note, we must count the cost on our family and our community as well as our business. Look at the time that you will spend and how that will affect all that you do. You may need to hire an assistant or project manager so that you are not burning your candle at both ends.
I hope you are enjoying this mini series on starting a business. Make sure you have read the previous articles:
When should I start a business?
Fundamentals of Business for Christian Business Owners