by Paul Szyarto
Making a million dollars in today’s economy is more difficult than ever. Years ago, you create a product, service or solution, propose it to the market and become a millionaire. With some hard work and moxie, the American Dream was within reach. Since the Great Recession, however, the new reality is slow growth – if there is growth at all. Funding constraints, inflation and saturation of “ideas” flooding into the market means that investors are incredibly selective as to where they place their bets. And yet, without funding, infrastructure, support and guidance, making a million off your idea is almost impossible.
The good news is you can significantly increase your odds by following three principles. It’s never going to be easy, even in the good old days you had to have a great idea, take some risk and work your tail off. You still do, but these principles will set you in the right direction:
1. Identify the “what” and “why.”
Passion is great, but if you don’t map out exactly what you’re bringing to market and why, you’ll never arrive at your unique selling proposition (USP). A USP is the True North of any successful venture. Everything flows from it, including strategy, operations, staffing, team building, product development, branding and PR. It’s the first question a potential investor will ask you about and the first thing a consumer will want to know before buying your product.
2. Define value.
Ask yourself what the quantifiable basis is for which you’ll determine if you have a winning idea or a turkey. This basis is value, and creating value is how an idea becomes a moneymaker. Maybe you’re saving someone time or money. Or perhaps you’re providing an enjoyable experience for which the customers value more than the money it will cost them. If you can answer yes to the question, “Is my idea something that relates to a current or new task, solves a ‘pain point,’ or creates value in another less tangible way?” document exactly what that value is and whose lives it will enhance.
3. Map out your steps.
Now that you have figured out what you’re creating, why as well as whom you’re helping, and how, you need to map out your steps – in detail – and follow your plan. Stay the course, but remember that change is the only constant in business. If you feel the land shifting beneath your feet, consult with people whose opinions you trust and make the necessary adjustments. But remember your USP and value-add. You’re still heading to the same place, even as you come across the roadblocks. Detours represent huge opportunities to develop your entrepreneurial muscles.
If you’ve never seen, felt or had a million dollars, it will always seem like the summit you can see in the distance as you’re climbing boulders, crossing streams and making your way slowly but steadily into the heights. Then, one day, you’ll get there and the view will be exhilarating. However, you’ll see an even higher peak, and you’ll start thinking about what it will take to make your first billion. That’s when you’ll know there’s no other way to live – you’re all in.
Paul Szyarto is a globally recognized expert in entrepreneurship, business leadership and self-defense. He is highly sought-after for his executive coaching and business leadership training. Known for applying the principles of Krav Maga – the Israeli self-defense system – into everyday business and life scenarios, Szyarto has trained hundreds of law enforcement professionals and groups of NFL players, in addition to business executives and entrepreneurs.