Starting a start-up sounds exciting, right? Our Impact Hub community is bursting with cool folks with the energy and spirit to start something innovative that could potentially turn our world towards a better one.

Are you one of them? Or want to become one of them? Then this post can assist you in the first steps of laying out your idea.


Don’t reinvent the wheel

An innovation is usually called a new product or service or sometimes an entirely new business system. But let’s be honest: there isn’t any product or service that has not been invented yet. But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can use the existing products or services to your advantage to better understand the market, the customers, the product, and the price structure. Find out what works for them and where they need to improve — and integrate those elements into your own idea.


But let’s start in a more structured way. You can use the ‚Start you Project’ canvas to guide you through the process:


1. Think big!

What can you really achieve with your idea should it ever become a great success? If it helps you to visualize, draw a picture of the future and what your idea can contribute to that picture. If you have specific goals you would like to achieve it can help to formulate those as well. For once, don’t hold back – be 100% (or more) convinced of your idea.


2. Solve a real problem

Second and very important: your idea needs to solve an actual problem of your target group. This target group can consist of individual people or whole organizations. Depending on that you will create a b-to-c (business to consumer) or a b-to-b (business to business) business model. It is important for you to know what is the customer benefit, what problem will be solved for them.


The key to success is not a perfect product or service, it is happy customers. Customers buy to satisfy a need or to solve a problem, e.g. something that makes work easier or enhances their wellbeing. To get a clearer picture of the needs and pains you can draw one or more personas from your target group. A persona is fictive person from your target group for whom you define some basic demographic characteristics as well as there values, goals and main pains. You should be able to visualize these personas; what kind of shoes do they wear? What do they think, see, feel, and do in your product area? Be sure to list both buyers and users of your product (sometimes they are both). If you’re not sure about the needs and pains of your target group, go out and observe, talk to some representative people. You’ll want to be able to clearly link your value propositions back to these needs.


Which of the problems and needs that you identified in your personas are you fulfilling with your product/service? What is unique about your value propositions and why should your customer prefer them to the current alternatives? Note it all down!


3. Define your success factors

After you got a clearer idea about your costumers and why they will benefit from your offerings, you can think about what opportunities and risks go along with you idea. Are there specific success factors, which might be needed to turn your start-up idea into a success? Or on the other hand, are there risky factors, like a possible change of market, you need to take into consideration?


4. Make an action plan

On a next step think about what you need to turn you idea into action. These could be resources or also skills you might need, which you don’t have yet. Understand what is needed and you will able to know what you need to do in order to succeed.


Following along these 4 simple (yet not so easy) steps will allow you to lay a great foundation for your start-up. It’s a first move towards guaranteeing your success. But there is more: A business must be profitable in the long term. That’s why we will focus on the business model and how you can earn money in one of our next posts of this new series.


Get the newest blog posts (of this series and others) directly into your mailbox with our newsletter or become part of our community yourself!