Trying to decide?
Have an idea for your business you think has potential? Whether it popped into your head last night or has been hanging out for a while now, new ideas are motivating and exciting, aren’t they? They make you focus on your business..
But far too often, we launch new ideas that fall short of our expectations. It sucks, and it makes you feel like a failure or, worse, resent your customers for not raving about it.
A little cafe a quick walk from my house should be my dream restaurant. It has heaps of charm, an old building, an organic vibe, eclectic furniture, outdoor dining, fairy lights everywhere, and a case of glossy cakes and petite treats. Every time I pass it, just looking at it makes me smile.
But I NEVER eat there, and my friends don’t either. Why? Because there’s a giant disconnect between what they’re offering and what I want. The food doesn’t match the messaging. You go in expecting organic, quaint, wholesome meals and read a menu filled with hangover food. There’s not a local egg or veg in the place, which is weird because it’s less than 100 steps from the farmers’ market.
It wasn’t always like that. The cafe changed its customer base on purpose, and it stays packed. It was an excellent idea for a new customer base willing to pay more. But this was an experienced, aged business with solid systems in place. Not an entrepreneur trying to build up.
My point: If you care about your existing customers — and I KNOW you do — when you have an idea, it can be a great one! But is it the right one, for where you are right now? When in the business growth phase, it pays to be extra careful when you have an idea. You want to ground yourself in success, not experimentation.
The Good Idea Right Now Test
We’ll cover seven ways to tell if your new idea is one worth pursuing or placing on hold.
Feel good about your idea if it meets most of the following criteria as you're growing your small business:
Can it be launched (up and running) in the next 30 days? Your idea could be a product or service for later, but can you make it happen now? If you can set the whole system up in the next four weeks, your idea will pass the first test.
Sidenote: We’re focusing on business growth here. While ideas that take longer are often better, this is not the time. You want action, results, and profit now. Bigger ideas are not far off but focus on producing results first.
Is it servicing and expanding a current customer base? Why fight for business? If you have customers who know and love you, offer them what they need, not what you want. Broaden your horizons later. For now, focus on the people who want to give you business.
Are you solving a NOW need? Whether tomorrow or next season, focus on your customer’s needs. Fresh flowers don’t grow in January - your greenhouse can. Immune-boosting herbs are a fall/winter thing, not mid-summer. Do you see?
Does your idea complement your current offerings to paying customers? A quick trick: Imagine a customer asked you for a gift basket to give to their BFF who’s just like them. Would this new idea nestle in happily amongst your other offerings, or is it that awkward add-in that doesn’t quite fit? When you have an idea, make sure that it’s playing to current sales and strengths in the early business growth stage.
Have your clients asked for it? This might be the only question you need to ask yourself!! I can’t tell you how many times I see business owners launch out-of-left-field new ideas. At the same time, their customers repeatedly mention wanting specific products and services. It’s crazy. Why fight sales your customers are TRYING to give you?
Make sure Mara’s not involved. Mara is the opposite of Buddha, the Lord Destroyer. He’s the guy in your head that wants you to do anything but what serves you best and largely responsible for Never Finish Anything Syndrome. Make sure your idea is not a temptation, distraction, or a new direction unconsciously designed to make you fail.
You’re offering it AFTER you’ve built out your systems for existing offerings. Have you refined what you currently offer to make it as easy and satisfying as possible for current customers to purchase from you and refer you to others? If you have products but are struggling with profits, improve what you already sell. Don’t launch a new idea (yet). A series of emails (not just 1!) that go out at specific times to remind clients to stock up, fast ordering, easy checkout, and testing some easy advertising.
Have An Idea That Pays Off
When you’re growing your small business, it’s so hard to know when you have an idea worth pursuing or a brainstorm to store away for later. But by asking yourself these questions, you can make sure your new idea is beneficial to your business and profits, not a time-waster or client chaser.
For now, make sure you can launch it quickly, in about 30 days or less. Focus your efforts on expanding your current customer base, not chasing new ones. You can increase sales rapidly while making your customers happy by solving a timely need. Remember that the new idea should be happy tucked into a gift basket with your other offerings. It’s something your customers have asked or wished they could have. Why fight for business? You can have different interests related to your business but not turn them into products — it’s okay to have hobbies and passions!
Please, please, please make sure Mara’s not involved and trying to distract, tempt, or scare you away from where your true success lies. And finally, don’t launch a new idea until you’ve refined the systems for your existing ones. Chances are you have a TON of business just waiting in the wings.
Because Business Is Waiting
Spend less time chasing new business, build up what you have, and then get back to launching new ideas. When you have an idea for a new offering, carefully consider if it needs to happen today. Can it wait until another day? If it can, hit pause. You’ll be glad you did when you see your profits and productivity increase from focusing on what you already have to get what you need.
So, what do you think of your idea now? I’d love to hear what’s running through your head. Leave it in the comments below, and I’ll be sure to reply.