Most people have a great idea that they think will turn them into the Steve Jobs or Bill Gates of South Africa: They just haven’t had the time or the opportunity to put it into practice yet. What does it take to make a good idea into a great business?
South Africans are amazingly creative. Nearly everyone I have spoken to, whether over a braai or around a water cooler, has mentioned some incredible idea they’ve had that they can’t tell me about because they’re afraid I will steal it and make millions from it.
South Africans are also amazingly naïve as to what it takes to make an idea into a multi-million rand (or dollar) business.
The secret of success
In my experience, most ideas rise or fall whilst attempting to execute them. What I mean by this is that you can have the best idea in the world, but if you don’t get the right graphic designer, the right copywriter, the right developer and right marketing agency… your idea might never become the success you envisaged, let alone get off the ground.
There is a nearly magical or divine coming together of the right people at the right place and time plus a good dose of luck that is required to make something succeed. And the more complex the idea, the more this applies.
When I just started working in marketing I learnt a valuable lesson. My boss wanted to send our annual report for printing without the signoff of a major stakeholder because we had an investor breakfast looming. There was no time to get the signature and so, against my recommendations, we went to print.
A few hours after receiving the printed copies, we were sent pages and pages of mandatory changes required by said stakeholder. Needless to say we somehow managed to effect these changes and still make the deadline of the breakfast, albeit with less sleep and more Rescue Remedy than I was comfortable with!
That’s where I realised that there would never be time to do it right the first time, but there would always be time to redo it. The same is true with large web projects that don’t get scoped out properly before design commences. No time to write a spec doc, but time to start recoding it after it’s gone live and there is a problem.
No time to write a decent brief to the agency, but time to get them to reprint or redesign it when you spot the error. All the redoing and re-designing end up costing a lot of wasted time, energy and money.
From the word go
The important thing to take away from this is that you need to make the time, and then you will get it right the first time and save yourself a lot of heartache and money in the long run.
Here are a few tips on how you can get it right the first time.
- Write a brief: Briefs help you crystallise your thoughts and give the agency something clear to work from.
- Do wireframes: Wireframes are rough outlines of every page in the process or on the website. You can design them in PowerPoint or draw by hand, but they are critical for you to understand the scope of what you’re asking the web developer to build.
- Test with users: By testing wireframes and early prototypes with actual customers, you will forgo painful and costly changes after the website has gone live.
- Get sign off: Make sure that your client or key stakeholders sign off the product or project before you make it live or go to print.
- Test it: Before you make it live, make sure it works! Get teams of people to test using different browsers and operating systems, as well as copywriters to look for typos.
Then fingers crossed, you switch it on and wait for the millions to start rolling in!