How To Turn An Idea Into A Successful Business While some rely purely on luck and others on expertise, here are a few things that we can learn from the branding industry for moving forward with confidence.

By James Pass

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With a plethora of new businesses setting up in Dubai, where more than 8,800 new companies were registered at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce in the first half of 2015, it may appear that everyone can launch a company- which is in fact, quite true. Hearing amazing success stories of startups and the glamorization of entrepreneurship today through movies and media, it can be very tempting to quit your job and be your own boss.

However, the harsh truth is that only 12% of first-time entrepreneurs succeed, and so, the key question here is: "What raises the chance for my startup to do well in the market?" While some rely purely on luck and others on expertise, here are a few things that we can learn from the branding industry for moving forward with confidence.

1. Finding the why.

Perhaps the most important ingredient in starting your own business is being passionate about your idea, and translating that message into why you do what you do to a greater audience. Bearing in mind that money is just the end result, what is the key purpose behind the project you are bringing to the market? Being an entrepreneur can be one of the toughest jobs you will ever have: expect sleepless nights, a rollercoaster of emotions and multitasking. Passion will help you go through the toughest times. As Steve Jobs once said: "People with passion can change the world," it holds the secret to entrepreneurial success for many. For those struggling to find their passion, it doesn't have to be a hobby that makes you happy today, but something that is deep rooted in your childhood or a past experience that can now be channeled as the key driver of your business.

On the other hand, finding "why" will be your key-differentiating factor, as building a brand is about establishing your story to connect with target market. With Gen-Z on the way, consumers don't speak the language of "features and benefits," your brand will need to connect on a human level, where feelings and emotions take over buying decisions. Be honest and tell your story.

2. "Observe. Observe. Learn."

It may sound obvious, but research and understanding your market is one of the key and most important phases, which lies as an essential platform in the branding process for many international agencies. Quite often, it is disregarded by the overconfidence and passion in one's own idea, but the golden rule is: "Observe. Observe. Learn". So what do we start with?

To shortlist the key research angles, first, look into your competitors. And that doesn't mean just locally. Observing your rivals and peers around the globe, is your first step to success. What are they good at? What mistakes have they done? That will help objectively evaluate your idea, as well as provide an insight on ways to stand out. Analyze your consumer and market trends, from simple Google search to mystery shopping. If you are on budget, this doesn't mean investing in hiring a research company, but deep dive yourself into existing customer experiences to find a gap to exploit.

3. Express your brand.

Expressing your brand is not about your logo. It's about translating your "why" and findings from your research into how your brand looks and sounds like. For many entrepreneurs, this might be something you would incline to put on a DIY list, and unless you are coming from a branding background, that may not produce the optimized results a professional firm can give. Expressing your story, from brand positioning and tone of voice to logo, colors and fonts requires a professional eye. As an entrepreneur, to optimize efficiency and get the best results, you will need to work in a team, where everyone will concentrate on what they know and do best.

4. Going viral.

Once you are done with the planning and the development stages, it's time to introduce your brand to the world. Developing a successful PR strategy is fundamental in taking your business to the next level. It is one of the most cost-effective methods to raise awareness about yourself and what you do, as well as generate positive publicity and effectively manage crisis situations. PR is more than writing a press release, so make sure you develop a well-diversified, integrated plan, which will include offline and online tactics tailored to your business needs. Don't forget to define your key audience and target markets, planning your activities based on set of objectives you put together. If you do everything correctly, your key messages will be placed directly in front of the eyes of the right people.

5. Don't stand still.

Last but not least, running a successful company is about continually innovating and adapting to new market demands. Nothing is constant but change. You research phase shall never pause, listen to your consumer and adjust accordingly. There will always be a struggle between changing too much or too little, yet your core reason "why" will help you to make the right decision to success.

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James Pass

James Pass, Managing Director and Creative Principle, JPd

James Pass is an entrepreneur, international brand consultant and accomplished graphic designer, with 20 years of global branding experience. Since relocating to Dubai in the 1990s, he’s worked with many international branding agencies, including Fitch and Landor Associates, developing a reputation as a leading creative force in the business world. In late 2012, James noticed a shortage of branding services for entrepreneurs and startups in the MENA region. The market was saturated by large design agencies with a predominantly corporate focus, which lacked the commercial sensitivity required for a bourgeoning business. In a bid to fill this gap, and enable start-up companies to build brands from scratch, JPd was born.

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