Is your idea ready for liftoff?

Oscar Pistorius trialThe Oscar Pistorius trial in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria seems to be the topic of conversation just about everywhere. DJs on the radio are talking about the hidden beauties in the legal teams, social media is buzzing constantly with comments and jokes and in the bars in the evenings some fantastic theories are being concocted on what really happened on that fateful Valentine’s night a year ago.

One of the things about the trial that interested me was a story in one of the weekly magazines that showed how much time that legal teams take to thoroughly prepare witnesses for a case. In a big stressful case like this the credibility of witnesses is vital. Witnesses, some of the criminal law specialists said, must go through their testimony clearly so that everyone can understand and mustn’t say more than necessary either.

All sorts of other things go into preparation such as making sure the person is neatly dressed, doesn’t talk to anyone outside the court, refrains from behaviour such as smoking which may create a negative impression or even the subtleties of not making eye contact with certain people in court.

Preparation is not only important to sensational criminal cases. It’s also important for any major undertaking whether it be a musical performance, keynote address to a large audience, presentation of financial results to investment analysts and the media and setting about planning for an important project.

For the start-up or small business owner preparation often makes the difference between success and failure. But the important thing here is that if you have too much preparation you can begin to procrastinate and not put your ideas into action. The flipside of this is that if you have too little preparation your start-up will begin with a whimper and not a bang.

I was listening to a young entrepreneur the other day who was saying that he believes there is a three-day window of opportunity that you have when you have a great idea. If you don’t act in that three-day period, the chances are you aren’t really going to do much about it. What he’s talking about here is not starting a small business in three days but at least taking some action steps to record in whatever form your idea as well as ways you are going to develop your idea for a product or service and go about its implementation and eventual launch.

How would you go about developing and implementing your new business idea? Do you need to plan things in fine detail or do you want a broad plan and will make up things as you go along?

One characteristic I have found from entrepreneurs is that no matter what level of resources they have, no matter their network of contacts and even maybe experience of a particular industry, they are able to break things down in a super simple way that enables them to get started on a new product or service or small business venture a lot faster than others who have never learnt how to do it. They break down tasks into their simple components and find the most direct routes towards achieving their goals. They eschew the complicated, the convoluted and the elaborate.

I’m not advocating that you shoot from the hip. The popular “ready, fire, aim” approach sounds useful but it needs to be seen in context. The area here that I’m talking about which is preparation is about the phase of getting “ready”. The aiming part refers to reshaping or redeveloping your product or service so that it better meets the needs of your customers, particularly when you are in the early development stages.

Some business gurus and academics are recommending the concept of the minimal viable product (MVP), which really means bringing something to market as quick as you can but that is acceptable to customers. But this is really just another theory and like all theories needs to be open to criticism and debate. I’ve heard a lot of stories about entrepreneurs who have tried this approach and their initial product offering was so pathetically bad that they had to toss it out and start all over again. But the point is they lots of money and a year in their lives.

A new business idea doesn’t come around every day. But when it does decide quickly how you can develop it into an opportunity that can bring new rich rewards whether you are a start-up, existing business owner, need to some start something of your own, are desperate to find freedom from and untenable situation or merely to improve the quality of your life and that of your family.

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