160301 PrepareCreateControl

Before you leave your job…

At last. You have a great idea. What next? What should you do before you switch off your income stream? How would you increase your chances of success without spending much money? The answer…

You need Lean Commercialisation which has three major phases. The first is to prepare yourself for your idea and the proposition so that you are ready to overcome the many hurdles that will approach and launch into the real world. Once you are prepared you can start to test your proposition. This is the process of creation where you start from a prototype and create the Maximally Sellable Proposition. In the final stage the idea is bringing in more than enough cash to pay all your company costs – including your salary (or the salary you wish to have). This is where you are finally in control of the life you want to lead rather than being driven by the need to work continuously to create your income. You have got to the point where you have choice over how you spend your time. The ultimate Nirvana.

Let’s look at each of those three phases and a little bit more detail.

In the preparation phase you are getting ready to understand how your life is going to play out as the result of your innovation. There are ten areas to look at each one of them is linked to the others. The first is looking at the goals, the journey and the tools that you will need on your way. The next four are looking at the problem, the potential income, and costs, and whether you have a solution for that problem. The third building blocks (based on the first four) are testing the niche, the financial plan, and thinking about the future. The next two blocks are looking at the market size and working out how to create a prototype. And finally is writing everything down in a plan. This plan will be in note form and is really a set of ideas from an expert who knows all about this product and how it can help people in the future.

The beauty of the preparation stage is that virtue no money is required – all that is required is a little time, access the Internet and the use of a spreadsheet. Once written down, even in note form, the proposition can be tested with friends and strangers. The feedback from strangers can be invaluable because they will quite often tell you exactly what they think of your plan (rather than what they think you want to hear). Remember to manage the ego: don’t take it personally but to realise that they are trying to help.

The second phase is to start to create the product and test the solution with customers (where customers are defined as people who pay for the product). At this point you may need to start spending money in order to create the product but you are as confident as you can be that this is likely to be a success. This is where you enter a tight iterative process of building a product, measuring the impact, and learning from the results. Deciding the decision criteria by which to measure the impact is the most challenging part of the whole process. At some point during this cycle you may get the point where you run short of funds. However all the evidence that you have gathered to date (if presented well) will make you stand out when you go to see funds from Business Angels and/or Venture Capitalists. After continuing the cycle for some time the product will start to become what is known as the Maximally Sellable Product so the iterations can slow down as we enter the last phase: control.

By the time you reach the control phase your solution will be generating enough cash to support your company and generate a tidy profit. You now have the luxury of choice as to what to do next. You can use that money to develop another idea, buy another company, or simply buy a yacht and enjoy the good life. You are in control. The choice is yours.

Over the next few months I will expand on each of the points that I have just written about. If you want to know as soon as each article is published, make sure you’re on my mailing list.

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