Turning Good Ideas Into Profitable Products
I love reducing (Christian) business down to the cellular level, making it simple and applicable for novice entrepreneurs and seedling enterprises. It is from these basic cells that more complex business systems can be understood, developed, and executed.
Your business idea can help many people and generate godly wealth. Sadly, many promising ideas dissipate into nothingness through fear of failure, fear of success, a lack of trying, a lack of mentorship, bypassing the wisdom-revelation balance, laziness, and/or fatal errors in the first eighteen months. This need not be!
If you have a heavenly calling and idea(s) for the business world, you must turn your idea into a profitable good or service. But God will not do it all for you. The Holy Spirit will alight upon you with strategy, gusto, and open doors. He will send coaches to show you the ropes. But after each adrenaline shot of supernatural help, you must put your hand to work. Deuteronomy 28:8 only comes true when your hand is calloused from laboring in the Lord (1Co 15:58). A lazy entrepreneur is hopeless, businessly speaking.
Market Niches, Targeted Subgroups
Novice entrepreneurs often make the mistake of overgeneralizing their target group. They insist their good or service is for "all men" or "all women" or "all Americans". That is too unfocused. If one day you attain crossover appeal across various niches, wonderful. But that will not help you starting out.
Your market niche is a clearly defined group within the overall population. It is the specific setting into which you will showcase your good or service. It is a section of the fishpond into which you will cast your worm. A few random examples would be, high school football players, senior men with heart trouble, small dog lovers, or stay-at-home moms. Notice the narrowness. Narrow down your target group to a carefully named subgroup. Let the Lord and your successes spread you from there.
Butterflying your cocooned idea into a profitable good or service means, first of all, appraising its market viability. How promising is your idea to your market niche? Does this product have a magnetic quality that would most likely draw consumers and market shares? A product has magnetism to the degree it possesses one or more of nine characteristics: (1) Blessing, (2) Novelty, (3) Design, (4) Quality, (5) Price, (6) Multidimensionality, (7) Speed, (8) Duration, (9) Freshness Mystique.
Is your business idea supernaturally empowered, because you seek the Lord and live under His presence and voice every single day?
Remember beloved, first and foremost you are a Christian entrepreneur. This means you and your enterprise are bound to God's way (if you desire supernatural blessing). But, you may say, what about all the ungodly businesses prospering without divine favor? True. Many wicked prosper (Ps 10:5, 73:3).
Yet this is precisely why your righteous enterprise must usurp and displace them (Pr 13:22, Ecc 2:26, Isa 54:3). God's solution to wicked wealth is not in changing universal business laws. His solution is you! A more exact Biblical term for this might be dispossession.
Scripture is straightforward about invoking God's blessing, in whatever area. 2Chronicles 26:5 (NIV) says this about King Uzziah: ...As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success. Proverbs 16:3 (NIV) says it like this: Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
The Lord is Your CEO
The Lord your God must be the true CEO of your life and your business. First, this means having daily intimacy with Him, spending focused time with Him everyday in prayer, worship, Bible study, listening, and obeying what you learn in those meetings (Mk 1:35).
Second, this means marinating your business in regular times of fasting and prayer (especially with one or two others).
Third, this means sowing and reaping must be the premise of your intended prosperity (2Co 9:6-11, Ps 126:5,6). In other words, giving and receiving must be the higher invisible law at work over buying and selling.
Is your idea completely new, unlike anything existing, and will likely appeal to a sizeable portion of your target because of this?
Things that are new, original, and unique draw market attention (like DippinDots, Smart Car, or energy drinks when they first appeared). Product novelty, however, is like good looks--if other qualities do not exist, the initial wow quickly fizzles. If your good or service is excellent through and through, novelty can jumpstart crucial momentum.
Is your idea/good/service designed better than existing ones?
Different colors, patterns, or styles on an existing product can increase their market value, but these are basic innovations. Going over the top with design innovation means completely redesigning an unattractive product (old knob TVs versus flatscreen HDs), making a product easier to use (telephones with cords versus cordless ones), or making a product more functional (push lawnmower versus automobile lawnmower). Think also of the evolution of computers.
Is your idea/good/service obviously superior in quality, yet still within the competition's price range?
This one can be slippery, so pray and think it through. Not all customers are willing to pay for higher quality, even the wealthy. Studies reveal wealthy Americans are among the most penny-pinching in their goods and services expenditures. Affluence does not necessarily equal luxury, especially in sluggish or stagnant economic times. There is, however, a market kind in which people will spend.
Passion markets are those that cater to the passions of individuals: cigar smokers, car enthusiasts, book lovers, computer geeks, anti-agers, competitive athletes, and so on. Consumers in these markets will spend more for distinguished quality. I recently purchased a pair of soccer shoes for $160. Why, when there were plenty of other cleats for under $100? Because I love what I do and want the best while I'm playing.
If you are not targeting a passion market your product will need dominant quality within the competition's price range. If you are targeting a passion market, you are less restricted in pricing, but your product must raise their blood pressure.
Is your idea/good/service at an obviously lower price, while maintaining competitive quality?
I love Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. Oh my. Most of my friends do too. But a freshman in college scrutinizing every price tag may only be able to afford the generic brand. The price is lower and tastes close enough to the real thing. Is your product one that can sell at a noticeably lower price than the competition, without diminishing quality?
A word of caution here. This concept works mainly for goods or services people buy repeatedly, like foods, drinks, personal hygiene items, household items, common clothes, office supplies, yard care, car maintenance, beautification, and so on. Goods or services purchased only once in a while do not fare so well with lower pricing. People think, We only get one bed every several years, so let's spend more and get the best.
Is your idea/good/service an integration of multiple products or functions?
This category goes by several terms: multidimensionality, multifunctionality, integration, enhancement. Does your product have multiple features that distinguish it from the competition? Think about Coca-Cola versus Pepsi. They are constantly one-upping each other by innovating the newest "multi-drink": Pepsi One, Coke Zero, Pepsi Lime, Coke Cherry, Pepsi Christmas, Coke C2...sigh! The point is a drink with plural functions or features. Household appliance companies are notoriously innovative in this department, as are car companies, cereal makers, and electronics designers.
Is your idea/good/service produced and/or delivered at a faster rate than the competition?
Speed is crucial for high-selling products that retailers struggle to keep in stock, resulting in backorders and lost sales. If your product can accelerate production and/or delivery, you will be filling a major weakness many businesses have. I tried ordering a different pair of soccer shoes along with the other ones I mentioned...they were out of stock. Think of today's foreign language learning methods, and how they have been improved to help people learn at a much faster rate than previous methods.
Is your idea/good/service shortterm or longterm?
Products can have a short or long lifespan, and both can be equally profitable. Market niches that are fickle or constantly changing (young age brackets, seasonals, behavior-driven markets, etc.) are the fishponds for short-term products. Having an overactive imagination is a true blessing when developing short-termers.
Longterm products are bait for more predictable buyers and needs (upper age brackets, homes, medical products, etc.). Your product's duration will help guide your launch environments, launch timing, launch strategy, and launch duration.
(9) Freshness Mystique
Is your idea/good/service intentionally subject to regularly scheduled innovations?
Some products have regularly scheduled updates and upgrades, called innovation cycles. This refers to a continual refreshing of the same product without mutating it into a totally different product. When people know a beloved product has innovation cycles, they often remain powerfully intrigued by the mystery and anticipation--the mystique--of the upcoming modification. Will your good or service have regular freshness mystique?
You do not have to start a company around your idea. You may develop your idea into an attractive good or service, then rent or sell it to established companies who will pay you a designer's fee and continual royalties. Many people have generated awesome wealth this way. For this to be the case, your idea needs to have market promise and your/your lawyer's negotiation skills well-groomed.