Developing your concept into a tangible business at the start of the launch process informs every decision and action you will take. The big question always is: How do I go from “Someday I might…” to “Today I will!”
IMAN had the idea to launch a makeup line for women with skin of color. This is an important differentiation from WOC or POC. "Women with skin of color" is an idea that manifested into an entire global business. Maybe you yourself have a brilliant idea right now. At this stage, several questions need asking. NOW is when you find a deeper understanding of what you’re really selling.
Having been there from Day One and VP Marketing of IMAN Cosmetics for over 25 years, many fantastic ideas had to be turned inside out and upside down. It has taught me this:
Customers don’t buy products. They buy narratives. They place high demand on a brand, expect trust, authenticity, and far more...
At every point of decision, they will ask themselves, “Why this product?” So you must ask yourself how your brand mission aligns with your target audience: your tribe.
Because the journey from idea to product is also costly in time and resources, you must also ask yourself how you will fund your venture? It is not uncommon to see great business ideas fade out before hitting their peak because they run out of funding. Questions of funding and questions of ideation are inextricable. The quality of the idea and the journey to making it a reality balance on the same fulcrum. They balance on your ability to fund them.
These are just some of the info-packages that have to be decoded. Unpacking key elements of business at its early stages helps with funding decision, marketing, distribution, and product development. It will certainly give you a sense of clarity and confidence, and that will spark more ideas.
Many entrepreneurs go into business with an idea and desire to work for themselves. The first lesson is the reality of owning any business is far more overwhelming than the idea. Most entrepreneurs are visionaries in some way or another. Decoding the planning, organization, and financials (the boring, day-to-day stuff) are the last area they try to figure out.
Historically, most businesses start with a business plan when launching their idea. Since the turn of the 21st century, however, the impact of technology-driven startups has turned the process on its head. Many businesses start with the product and work backwards.
This does not eliminate the need to be strategic and structured. In my experience, the journey from ideation to product is shorter when a business strategy is laid out. A good business plan discusses and lays out the topics mentioned—marketing, distribution, development, accounting, etc. Formal or informal, strict of fluid, however you write yours, consider a strategy as a roadmap.
When day-to-day running of business begins, your approach will have to be agile—nimble. In many cases, business owners rarely refer to their original strategies. Realities and clear purpose rule in the early days. But as business starts up, original strategies should be reviewed and updated in response to shifting priorities, changing market conditions, and staff changes. Any big change to your business warrants a review of your business strategy. Even your idea may have to be modified. This stage of the development is crucial. It may mean the difference between ensuring that your business is on track, to meet its goals, purpose, and mission on one hand, or embarking on a misguided voyage that can’t be corrected. Proceed with wisdom!
For any business to be successful, the phase of your thinking is crucial. Here are some points to consider:
How realistic are your business goals beyond the great idea? Have you considered where you want your business to go, i.e., global, online, B&B, partnerships? How much funding will you realistically need at different phases?
Your business can become a successful reality if you decode and unpack the playground where it’ll be working.
ATHENA's Ed.Note: Desiree, our Co-Founder, has been at the forefront of legacy conversations around all things melanin for over 2 decades. A Lead Educator for Hopenclass and FutureLearn, Desiree's hands-on experiences can be contextualized in Thinking 360 - An Interactive Insightful Workshop from March 23 2021.