In my previous article I wrote about my heritage and how the idea for Company Connecting began to germinate. This week I am going to continue on the theme of ideas and how you convert an idea into a business.
The first business I set up in 2014 had ‘Converting Ideas into Business’ as its strap line and the intention was to help others create a business from an idea. Data may be my passion, but two of my key skills are implementation and delivery. So my first thoughts were to put these to good use to help others build their business.
I wanted to set up a business which would deliver one to one help in person and via a website – a type of online mentoring. This required a number of people experienced in various different business and technical areas. The idea started with a chance encounter at 2,400 metres in the Italian Alps with an Italian who taught English as a foreign language via skype. This gave him the flexibility to build his life around his work. So why not apply the same principles to mentoring small business and providing bite sized flexible learning instead of courses which could run into days – not always practical for a small business owner?
The online aspect of the business tied in with the Tim Ferriss approach in his book ‘The Four Hour Working Week’, that was mentioned in my previous article. For me it was a fresh approach to work. Why work all your life and then retire? Why not build a life where you can do what you want to do and work, and perhaps never retire? This appealed to my farming heritage – when does a farmer ever retire? Never! The approach also challenges the more standard employee approach – where many look forward to a retirement – which may never come.
So my concept for my first business idea was very much around creating a flexible way of working not only for me but also for my potential customers. Around this time I was doing a Stanford University online Technical Entrepreneurs course which meant that I was leading a multinational team to deliver our project. This introduced the concept of a Business Model Canvas (BMC) and the customer Value proposition, which I understood from an academic perspective but found difficult to use at a practical level. The understanding came more than a year later when I participated in the Pathfinder Accelerator run by Highlands and Islands Enterprise which I will cover more fully in a future article.
So now I was ‘armed’ with Tim Ferris’ concepts, the Business Model Canvas, and finally a third ‘tool’ the Lean Start Up by Eric Ries. The key for all these is to know your customer base, carry out your research and pull together a Value Proposition. The research aspect is something I am very comfortable with, given my background of analysis and taking products to market previously. So I threw myself into finding my customer base i.e. small IT companies. However much to my surprise it just wasn’t that easy.
In the bext article I talk about the issues I had trying to get the information I needed, and how this created the concept for Company Connecting