Hello IHOD readers! My name is Amina Belouizdad, I’m one of the Co-Founders of Bartaile. I’m excited to share some of the lessons we have learned while building Bartaile, a modern travel bag brand. We started Bartaile for all those #goingplaces, whether you’re looking to further your career, see the world, or just do more. So, please, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – happy to get on a call or share some thoughts and be helpful however I can. We’re all in this together.
Let’s start by dispelling some myths:
1) You need to have money before you start a business.
2) You have to love taking risks.
3) You have to be a subject matter expert.
4) You have to do it all yourself.
None of these are true! But they can be, if you let them stand in your way. I will tell you that both Felicia (my business partner) and I cannot say we had any of the above. And we turned out just fine! There really are no universal truths when it comes to starting a business – there are no rules and no right or wrong way. In my opinion, this is a better time than ever to just go out and do it. There is an incredible amount of resources available now both offline and online.
With that in mind, here is what I’ve learned….
So you have an idea?
You’ll know when you’ve found it; usually because you can’t get it out of your head, and it just makes so much sense to you. It might be a problem you’ve experienced directly or one that you’ve witnessed through someone else. If this is you then congratulations! You’ve been bit by the entrepreneurial bug. She’s persistent, tenacious, and speaks with the honeyed voice of a jazz club singer. She’s hard to shut down! The most important thing you can do is try to figure out whether this idea is worth pursuing.
This takes some pragmatism. It takes being able to approach your idea unemotionally, with a forensic eye. The questions you want to answer as quickly and cheaply as possible can really be boiled down to four:
1. How much does it cost for me to make my product or service?
If it’s a product, create a prototype immediately. It can be just a minimum viable product — a simple, easy-to-make version of your product. If you’re crafty you can make it yourself, or if you’re not (like me!) you can just go to a manufacturer. Most manufacturers are very open to working on a developing a new product. The key here is to gain an understanding of the materials, pricing and costs. And to start thinking about ways to improve quality or design. Of course, if your idea entails a service, then it’s easier! A little bit of research will go a long way in terms of understanding the costs.
2. Who is my target market?
One of the best ways to identify and understand your target market is through surveys and focus groups. Surveys are great because people tend to be more honest in front of a screen. Focus groups are great because you can gather feedback through body language, facial expressions and can really drill into certain aspects.
3. How much is my target market willing to pay for my product or service?
Now, a lot of people try to answer this question with the same surveys and focus groups above. However, I think the only way to truly test how much people are willing to pay for a given product/service … is to have them pay for it! Hosting a pre-sale or pre-order is a great way to do this. An even better way is to host a Kickstarter. This also allows you to test your supply chain and production.
You can test different prices at different times and see how people react — however, for integrity, I recommend you then retroactively reimburse the difference for any people that paid more than others. This is an experiment that your first customers shouldn’t have to pay for.
4. Does this all work for me, my lifestyle and my goals?
This is probably the most important part! And I don’t think we talk about it enough — in business, as in life, different people want different things. Some want purpose, some money, and others want to just be able to work from home in their underwear.
There’s really no right answer here, but questions 1-3 should help inform the context in which you answer the final question – is this for you? Is this consistent with your personal goals? Are you ready for the road ahead?
I hope this helps many of you budding entrepreneurs! We want to share one of our Bartaile bags with you today so we are giving away the Loden Bartaile Backpack! Enter below via Rafflecopter.