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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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When You Can’t Get an Idea Off the Ground

Some business ideas leap into entrepreneurs’ heads fully formed. Developing others into a marketable concept is like pulling teeth. Yet, no matter how easily your business idea comes, you should know that building that idea into a business is always an uphill battle — and more often than not, the slope proves too steep. So, what should you do when, no matter how hard you heave, your business idea stubbornly stays on the ground?

Understand Why the First Mile Is Hardest

From the second you commit to bringing your business plan into reality, you are facing a struggle. Before you launch, your business plan is pristine — there is nothing forcing you to reconsider your path or plan alternative routes. In fact, on paper, the trail to success seems obvious and simple. 

Yet, as soon as you start enacting your strategy, you will encounter issues. Perhaps you can’t find funding as easily as you expected; perhaps you forgot to budget for something significant, or you neglected to include a model for attracting customers. The first mile of your entrepreneurial dream is the hardest because it forces you to confront the real-world, where business is messy and unpredictable. During the first few months — or, for many businesses, the first few years — there seem to be only opportunities for failure, and you must remain constantly vigilant to keep your idea humming.

Look for Pitfalls Preventing Your Progress

Entrepreneurs often make mistakes — but If you don’t recognize and learn from your mistakes, you will never be able to develop an idea into a well-running business. Here are a few common traps that prevent entrepreneurs from making progress:

  • Analyzing to paralysis. There is no such thing as the perfect business plan. No amount of data or analysis will insulate you from failure. After you have sketched out a strategy for your startup, you should take action to bring it to life.
  • Doing without thinking. The opposite to paralysis by analysis is just as bad. You need to research somewhat before you act, or else you might be jumping straight into a bad business idea.
  • Developing a job, not a business. As an entrepreneur, you should be involved in the daily activity of your business — but only initially. Eventually, your business should be able to function without you completing every task; otherwise, you’ve only given yourself another job.
  • Acquiring a partner. Sometimes business partnerships are beneficial, but more often they lead to disagreement, strife, and inaction. For as long as you can, you should go it alone.

Gain More Knowledge About Business Management

Every job you had before you decided to become an entrepreneur should serve as your apprenticeship, but even with a few years of real-world work experience, you probably didn’t have the exposure you need to excel in business management. Thus, you might not have the knowledge necessary to cultivate your idea into a viable business or run your business successfully for the long term. Fortunately, you can obtain the appropriate skills and information by achieving an online MBA, no GMAT required. Online programs fit more easily into your hectic entrepreneur’s schedule, and by cutting a lengthy admissions process short, you can get in, learn, and get out in time to save your business idea.

Talk to Someone Who Knows More Than You

It might be time for you to seek out an entrepreneurial mentor. Mentors do more than listen to you complain; they can advise you on business decisions, connect you with important professionals in your field, point out weaknesses in your idea or business model, and more. Ideally, your mentor should come from a field related to your business, but even an experienced professional in a differing field might have a critical eye and useful recommendations. Eventually, your mentor should help you see your idea from all angles, which is the makings of a successful entrepreneur.

Try Something Else for a While

Timing is incredibly important in business. Your idea might not be going anywhere not because it is bad but because the world isn’t ready for it, yet. For example, movable type was created as early as 1800 BCE in Ancient Minoa, and around 1000 CE in China, but it wasn’t until Johannes Gutenberg’s press in 1450 CE that printing truly took off. More recently, a company called Amp’d Mobile tried to peddle an entertainment-based cellphone — replete with applications and live TV subscriptions — two years before the iPhone was released, but consumers proved disinterested in such a product at that time. It might be that you need to try a different business idea for a while, until the market is ready for upheaval.

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