While watching her young son wrestle with his stuffed animals to fall asleep, Jennifer Tefler, came up with the cool idea that is known as Pillow Pets. These cute, plush, pillows in the shape of animals were a great design that made for easy play mates as well as resting pillows for children of all ages. Today, her cool idea grosses millions of dollars each year. You see… every product on the market, every service provided, started off as an idea that was later shaped into a successful business. But how?

Unfortunately, many hopeful entrepreneurs never make it past the initial stage of creating a business. They become confused with how to present their vision to the world in a way that will be successful and simply throw the idea out. While it is true that not EVERY idea is meant to be a product or service, many of them can be turned into a reality…with the right plan of action. Below are a few pointers on how to get that started.

1.  Brainstorm

Ideas often go through a series of stages before they’re actually turned into a business idea. While the idea is the basis for the business, it does require some research, sculpting, and shaping before it can be presented to the world. So…the first step to making any idea into a business is the brainstorming phase. It is during this stage that you should be bringing your idea to life. When brainstorming, ask yourself these questions:

·  Am I passionate about this idea? – the best business ideas are those that the entrepreneur is passionate about. Without passion it can be hard to motivate yourself through the remaining steps to cultivating your idea into a reality.

·  Will this idea solve a personal need or desire? – Your idea needs to serve a purpose. Without purpose, the idea can simply fall by the wayside. Therefore ask yourself what need or innermost desire would your idea serve?

·  How many different ways can this idea be presented? – Is your idea better served as a product? A service? Or both? Which way will it meet a personal need or desire best?

2.  Get the Opinion of Others

Now you have a very rough draft as to how you want your idea to be presented. You know that you’re passionate about it, you have an idea of what need or desire it would meet, and you also have an idea on how it is best presented to the world. Now, comes the fun part…gaining the perspective of others. There are two ways in which you can go with this concept:

·  Close Friends and Family – your family and friends are often the closest people to you. They will give you an honest (hopefully) answer about your business idea and whether or not they think it could be successful. You want to get the opinion of those that will be the most open and honest with you, as asking too many people or those that are not as close could give you mixed answers.

·   Professional Opinions – to get an unbiased opinion, it may be equally as important to seek the opinion of a few professionals. It is during this time that it might be advisable to find a business mentor. Someone who knows the ropes and would give you advice on how to turn your idea into a successful business.

Once you’ve gathered the opinion of others, it may be necessary to go back to the drawing board to add or eliminate some things from your business idea. Remember, you should take constructive criticism and run with it. It is not to deter you from starting a business, but to help you in fine tuning your idea in a way that will benefit the masses.

3.  Research the Market

Okay, so you’ve done your brainstorming (which ideally turns into a business plan), you’ve taken the opinions of others, and you’ve gone back to the drawing board and tweaked your idea to make it more marketable. Now you need to do your homework on the market. Some factors to consider include:

·  Who will best benefit from your business idea – who is your target audience?

·  Are there already competitors providing the same products/services? If so, how will yours differ?

·  What are the best methods for reaching your target audience?

4.  Don’t Forget the Legalities

At this point in the game, you should have a better idea on whether or not your product or service should be turned into a business. Before going any further, you’ll want to address the legal side of things to safeguard your business. No matter what type of business you start, there are going to be various legalities that must be met to prevent yourself from getting in trouble with the government later. Below are a few of those steps:

·  Determining your legal structure – do you intend to be a sole proprietor, limited liability corporation, partnership, or incorporated? The US Small Business Administrative gives a breakdown on the various legal structures.

·  Register your business name – now is the time to create a name for your new business and register it within your locality to ensure no one else can take your trade name.

·  Obtain necessary licenses and permits – depending on the type of business you’re going to operate you’ll need to obtain a license or permit. Check with your state to find out which licenses are necessary.

·  Know Your Responsibilities as an Employer – if at some point you plan to hire a few employees, it will be important to be fully aware of your responsibilities as an employer. CPApowered.org has an explanatory video that goes over the legalities of hiring staff:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bvw0dmJIprI&w=550&h=309]

5.  Launch Your Business

Here’s where things get a bit more hands on. Now you’ll need to develop your idea into a product or service advertised and sold to your target audience. Since most entrepreneurs don’t have the necessary capital in the beginning stages, it may be necessary to find ways to obtain funds to develop your idea further. Once you’ve gotten a final product, you’re ready to market your idea to the world.

Important note: As you begin your business venture, you will find that continual market research is necessary to continually cultivate your idea in a way that best benefits your target audience. Tests and assessments are important to eventually developing the best ideas over and over again.

So now you have a brief rundown of how to turn your cool ideas into a full fledged business. Some of these processes may take longer than others, and there are also instances in which you may have to go back to the drawing board more than once before launching your business to the world, but in the end it’s all worth it. As long as you have the passion, determination, and drive, your idea is sure to make you tons of money someday…Just ask Mark Zuckerberg.