The lean business idea

Everybody knows a business starts with an idea. The reverse is, however, not always true and an idea does not often lead to a viable, let alone successful business.

One of the many possible causes of demise of businesses is the poor execution of the initial idea. With all the various priorities to juggle when running an operation, it is not always easy to clearly identify the priorities that can make or break the venture. Failing this identification is a risk for the business as it may lead to poor allocation of resources, lack of focus and in turn a flawed decision-making process that is likely to lead to a fatal outcome.

There are ways to avoid all of this. It is all about forming a clearly defined business idea, plan or proposal, or in other terms, cutting the fat from your business idea. Here are my 6 commandments to guide you along when forming a clear vision for your business.

  1. You shall walk before you run

 As an entrepreneur or a business leader, chances are you will get excited about your idea. And whilst being aware of the challenges you will have to overcome to make it a reality, you will probably elaborate on its potential and its various possibilities of evolution.

Whilst this is excellent – it is called vision – it has to be appropriately managed. If you fail to execute correctly on the base idea, there will be no future grounds on which to build upon, and your vision will never be anything else.

Focus on your core idea. Develop a detailed plan to make it a success. Analyse as many details as you can, evaluate the risks, build a roadmap. Only when this is done, tested and in execution can you start looking seriously into the steps to follow to implement your Grand Plan.

  1. You shall know your Value Proposition

You would be surprised to realise how many entrepreneurs or business leaders cannot answer this simple question: “Why your business?” Most of the time, you will hear the ‘what’: “We do this and that”, or the ‘how’: “We do it like this”. But rarely will you hear: “We address this issue caused by these factors, in a unique manner because our core approach consists of this.”

Do not underestimate this simple question as it is probably one of the hardest you will have to answer as an entrepreneur. Only you can answer it and failure to do so means that the very existence of your business will remain fragile. Is your idea so unique that a business deserves to exist upon it?

Take time – and a lot of it – to answer this question truthfully. Chances are it will focus your idea more than ever. It will show your idea’s limits, its potential and the associated challenges.

  1. You shall know your market

There is no point in having the best idea in the world if you have not identified the market that it will resonate with.

Whilst this seems obvious, it will require a fair amount of research and testing. “Young professionals”, “large companies” or “pension funds” are not markets. These descriptions are too vague.

A market is a group of ‘players’ gathered around a community of interests or needs, supported by existing products and services and with some level of funding available. A market has a buying pattern, physical and temporal boundaries and a set of identified challenges.  And in a market, your idea will have competition as well as potential alliances.

Analysing your market correctly is essential because proposed at the wrong time or to the wrong audience; your idea will never stand a chance to become a viable business.

  1. You shall stay away from all glitter and strass

When building your plan, stay away from anything shiny. Sure you could spend a fortune on TV ads, or you could placard all the bus stops of your city with ads, just to make your brand known.

But is it the right course of action? Will it reach the target of your business? Is it economical? Can you afford it? What happens if it fails?

Focus on real steps for your business – build the best product and service you possibly can. Spend time, effort and sweat getting your first clients. Give them the experience of a lifetime and make them your best advocates. Then focus on scaling: test and re-test your go-to-market strategy and measure the results. Keep improving your product. Build partnerships.

Your plan should focus on how you penetrate the market and gain more market shares. Anything that does not push this objective is superfluous and should be left aside – it will only be a distraction.

  1. You shall write and be challenged

One of the best ways to assess whether you are focused enough on your idea is to write it in the form of a business plan. Even if you are the only one ever to read it, it will give you the critical distance needed to assess whether you have identified all the important building blocks correctly and whether they work well together. If you have doubts, then you have not achieved this and you need to work further on these core elements.

Once completed, share your idea around. Do not fear that someone will ‘steal’ it. It takes so much passion and conviction to get an idea up from the ground that the myth of someone stealing it is just that – a myth.

You will however encounter many people that will challenge it or unveil aspects you may have missed. And this is gold for you.

  1. You shall focus on what will bring in revenues

This last commandment is all about going back to the basics: your idea has to somehow bring in revenue for your business. Anything that can participate to this within your budget is good and should be considered.

Anything else is peripheral and should not be part of your plan – it can only distract you, cause you to lose money and slow you down. Just focus on the essentials to start with.


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