How to go from vague idea to concrete business concept

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bigtosmallA blog reader recently wrote an email and shared his frustration at being stuck in a corporate job and hating it, but not knowing how to begin a new business in a new field.

To answer this question, in this week’s podcast (6 1/2 minutes — go here to listen), I outlined a number of steps you can take to go from vague and fuzzy idea to concrete business concept, highlighted here:

  1. Step 1: Wrap your arms around the field. Learn as much as you can about all the ways this field is expressed in business, so that you know which area to focus on.
  2. Step 2: Choose a small “neighborhood” to explore.  Once you see all the different possibilities in the field, choose a particular area of interest.
  3. Step 3: Identify the hotshots that are doing the work successfully.  These should be people who not only have technical expertise that you admire, but also complimentary values and thriving businesses.
  4. Step 4: Carve a niche.  Choose a particular area to work in that represents your best work, and a particular group of people to work with that would energize and engage you (and would pay you — we are talking about a viable business!)
  5. Step 5:  Shake a tree.  Get moving with a marketing plan, selling services and meeting with potential customers.

If you break things into steps and deal with one at a time, the prospect of entering a new field won’t be so overwhelming.

I would like to extend a special welcome to any listeners who came here via Duct Tape Marketing’s podcast, which is now (or will soon!) syndicate this podcast on their channel.

Filed Under: Podcast

5 Responses to “How to go from vague idea to concrete business concept”

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  3. Alex K says:

    Good article, Pam.

    I would add one more thing for fellow corporate cubicle dwellers: to learn about business, try to work as close to the sales side as much as possible.

    It’s been something I’ve been struggling for a while. I work as a developer, and I communicate with other developers, testers or (best case) business analysts. No chance to learn more about the industry whatsoever.

    Lately though, I’ve been trying to shift to work as a business analyst in order to interact with the actual users. This way, I can find out about the users’ actual needs and learn the business.

  4. Pamela Slim says:

    Fair enough Orangeguru …

    In this post, you are right, I don’t go into detail on each step, which I do in the podcast. That is why I said these are “highlights.” But my bi-monthly podcasts are more “back of the napkin” high level thoughts that people can digest in a short period of time, rather than the longer, detailed interviews in the radio show that go into a topic in depth.

    Each of these steps merits a blog post, as they are pretty involved.

    I just find that people dive into the weeds right away, worrying about “how can I make money in graphic design,” rather than taking the time to survey the overall field and see where they want to focus, choosing a niche, talking to real people who are doing the work, etc. This is intended for high-level discussion.

    If it didn’t work for you this time, well, there is always next time. That is if you choose to come back! 🙂


  5. orangeguru says:

    That was so vague and metaphysical it’s of no practical use.