Is your business concept feasible?
Will it make money at some point?
More often than not, we find business owners starting their endeavor without a clue as to its success potential. Success potential is a realistic consideration of whether the idea has a chance of earning a profit, and at what point in its existence.
Far too often, the person with an idea for a product or service has little experience operating a business. They’ve got what they believe is a great concept, and they become emotionally invested in moving forward. They probably invest some financial capital as well, but are unsure of how much more they may have to invest to make the project viable. They need to take the time to think things through.
Conducting a feasibility study involves taking a step back to evaluate the idea from several points of view, removing the emotional element (there’s a place to bring that back in), and assessing the business from a rational perspective. Among the considerations are financial projections – obviously – along with management, market demand, production, distribution, licensing and legal concerns, product definition, and a host of other business elements.
Financial projections need to be as realistic as possible. It’s easy to project an optimistic forecast for sales, but the pie-in-the-sky numbers can convey a false sense of short- and long-term profitability. The cost of goods sold (COGS), expenses, labor costs, and cash flow are among the down-to-earth considerations that can provide realistic numbers.
Realistic projections are also critical if the business owner needs financing. We’ve seen potential loans turned down because the borrower, when asked, told the banker the numbers were just “plug ins” and was unable to explain why they were in the projections.
An independent third party like Brand Irons can review the financial projections in a business plan and do the research to verify their accuracy. They can also look at the other elements, such as the strength of the management team, to provide a prospective lender with the information it needs to make a decision. Lenders often want to know if the management team is capable of making tough decisions when necessary, and the business owner completing a plan for financing is rarely objective on that issue.
One of the most difficult parts of conducting a feasibility study is removing the owner’s emotional attachment to the concept. Although it may be the best idea since the invention of the bread slicing machine, we advise business owners that they must be able to walk away from a project if all indications are that profitability is fleeting. Where emotion comes back into play is once the idea looks viable and the owner elects to move forward, their emotion becomes the foundation of the marketing strategy that convinces prospective customers to purchase.
Keep in mind that some people may have great ideas but lack the skills necessary to carry them through. Yes, a feasibility study can cost thousands of dollars and months to complete, depending on the concept and its variables.
It is well worth the investment if, in the long run, it saves the heartache of risking one’s personal wealth to realize they’ve lost it all. And, if it proves feasible, the study becomes the foundation of the business plan and marketing strategy. More next time.