Why hello there! I am Greg Reichardt and I am currently starting a company called Terravia with my two friends Connor Dahlberg and Alex Goldman. Terravia is a travel company that provides themed based trips and an in trip service promoting local culture and lifestyle that is supported by a collaborative community. I have learned throughout this experience that no idea is safe when starting a business. We started out with a single idea of offering coupons to people that uploaded pictures from cultural significant areas. This idea was scrapped and reinvented more times than I can count in the last six months. It has grown into a project that now seems insurmountable even though the Terravia Team has worked on this idea every day for the last half a year. Our current business is aiming to redefine how people travel. Here is my experience when dealing with ideas. It works for both products and services so I will refer to them as simply “ideas”.
Being an entrepreneur is not about having a single great idea or settling for the first, second, or even third brilliant idea to come out of your head. Being an entrepreneur is to forever scrutinize ideas, whether your own or your peers or ideas made by a world renown company. This does not mean to be ignorant and say ideas are good or bad. I am proposing to take a neutral stance when ideas are being thrown around. Keeping an objective stance will give you the ability to assess situations and improve upon them. It is also just good practice to question ideas because later in life, finding a problem in an idea or finding a more efficient way of doing something can help out with your future career.
I cannot stress enough that you should talk to people about your ideas. Start with people you are comfortable with then move onto a larger audience. If you hear positive feedback, keep moving on and ask more people. No idea is complete. If you hear negative feedback, do not take it personally. Learn from the feedback. Ask yourself if the problems presented are just with the individual, their demographic (age group, region, etc), or an inherent problem in your idea. If you believe it is just the individual then move keep telling people about the idea to get a better gauge. If it is the demographic, keep testing it to test your theory within and out of that specific demographic. If it is a problem in your idea, and most likely and it, then think of ways to improve it. Early audiences to an idea are crucial for the early stages. They can make or break the progress of the idea based on the changes you are able to make early on. It is much easier to solve problems early when the idea is still young and not developed then it is to change the entire company later; problems caught late put everything about the idea in question.
Early stage: Any idea an entrepreneur dreams up should be initially taken with a grain of salt. The original idea is usually very broad and underdeveloped. There are many questions at the beginning that need to be answered before it is officially becomes more than an idea. Here are a couple examples to get you started:
What problem does this idea solve? This is the most important question. It is pretty self-explanatory. One tip when answering this question is to think broad and often overlooked applications.
How is it being solved currently? If it is a legitimate problem, people must be going somewhere to currently fix it. Even if you think it is not effective or efficient, people are still doing it.
What advantages and disadvantages does my idea have compared to the current solution? Be objective when answering this question. This question is “why will you win?” later on. This answer to this question evolves a lot after details about the company are finalized.
Middle stage: This is the stage where the business is still just in the idea-early starting up stage where the entrepreneur has some direction of what they want with their idea. They are able to have an entire business plan (or at least most of one) done. However be warned, although you will be able to make your business plan at this stage, it will not be the last. Flexibility is key during this stage.
Who is my audience? This question might change overtime, but try to define who your overall target market is and who your early adopters are.
Where do you fit in the industry? Find your niche and focus all of your attention on this.
Does my idea reflect both my audience and my spot in the industry? Evaluate your entire idea. This is another question you must be completely objective about. Make sure the idea is tailored to these answers so you do not have a mistaken identity.
Final stage: This step is just before you are about to file to become a real business. In some cases this step is right before you “go live”. All of an entrepreneur’s hard work is created for this time. Make sure everything is put in order and checked, but try to stay flexible to what the market wants. Some questions to consider may include:
Is my idea actually ready for this stage? Re-evaluate everything. If something is not going as planned, find out why and solve the problem. This is a case by case basis.
How does my company’s experience differ from others? Compare what the customer is experiencing now and how they will be experiencing it with you. It is the difference between what your customer expects from your idea and what your customer actually receives from your idea.
What is my company’s image? This is done through your experience, logos, commercials, and much more. Every part of your business must have the same feel. When a person walking on the street sees one of your components they need to be able to see the full picture. Do not let anything stand alone.
Final thoughts: I have provided a couple sample questions and they do not stop there. All of these questions will be answered even if in different sections than I laid out. This is from my own personal experience. Recently, the Terravia Team had to create a solid 2 minute pitch so when we are approached by mentors and investors we can correctly portray our full idea along with our competitive advantage. The problem that we have had in the past is that we have not been able to effectively portrayed our advantage in that given amount of time. When we elaborate to people they love and see the benefit. This was solved by answering the questions about image and experience. These questions have helped us define exactly what Terravia’s is. This one question has actually transformed the way our company functions and speaks about all of our features. I hope you enjoyed the blog and comment with your thoughts.