2. Conduct a competitive analysis.
Once you’ve checked your own enthusiasm, it’s time to see what the marketplace is all about. Search for your idea on Google to see who's already doing something similar; browse various app stores to do the same.
Don’t be afraid of overdoing it with research -- there’s no such thing. When Mo Bhende and Jeff Spector, co-founders of the hiring startup Karat, conducted research on the interview process software engineers go through, they took a six-month trip around the United States. They also participated in numerous interviews to find opportunities for their company.
You might not have the ability to conduct an analysis that exhaustive, but you should at least look around to see who else is operating in this space.
3. Create a rough prototype.
If your research determines that the competition is not satisfying market needs or that your idea is not differentiated enough, it’s time to build a rapid prototype. Quickly sketch out your idea and then create something that you can test; it doesn’t have to be overly complex. Girlboss, for example, built a rapid prototype of its professional social networking site by using a Facebook group.
To craft your own rapid prototype, identify your target market. Who will ideally buy your product or service? Why will these people want it? Who are they, and why would they talk to you? Will your product make the businesses they run more productive? The answers to these questions should help your prototype take form.
He continued the tradition when he opened Chick-fil-A, and you still won’t find any of these restaurants open on a Sunday. The policy is firmly ingrained in the company culture now, and has become a selling point when hiring new employees, regardless of their religious background. Standing firm in these values was important to Cathy and his family, who continue to run the company.
Related: 5 Things You Need to Know Before Investing in a Chick-fil-A Franchise
7. Focus on people and community building.
Cathy always said he wasn’t in the chicken business; he was in the people business. For him, it wasn’t just about revenue -- it was about encouraging and supporting others. One of Chick-fil-A’s guiding principles is to support the local community and be of service to those in need. Restaurants are encouraged to give back in various ways, such as donating to local events or providing food for shelters or soup kitchens.
In 1984, Cathy started a charitable organization that offers academic scholarships for team members and runs youth summer camps, foster homes and transitional homes for youth. The charity also gives to other organizations, though some of these efforts have met with controversy.
However, Chick-fil-A remains very popular, especially in the South, with many people saying the chain has a positive influence on their community.
8. It all comes down to the business model.
Chick-fil-A's ability to do all of the above is directly tied to the chain's unique business model. For starters, it accepts just 70 to 80 out of 20,000 applicants who apply per year to operate a franchise, making the company one of the most selective chains in the industry. Operators don't own or receive any equity in the business and can only open one location.
But it’s also less expensive to open a Chick-fil-A restaurant than almost any other chain -- with the company charging franchisees only $10,000 to do so. This means the company can be extremely choosy about who runs its restaurants, and can maintain strict control over product quality. The company can also shift strong-performing franchisees to bigger stores or give them more responsibility.
All of this has helped propel the fast-food chain’s revenue, with each location earning roughly $4.4 million in sales annually. By comparison, McDonald's generates about $2.5 million per restaurant, and KFC about $1.1 million per restaurant. As Truett Cathy said, “In the end, remember that businesses don’t succeed or fail. People do.” And that is why his company still succeeds.
Family was central to Cathy’s life and his business philosophy. His Christian faith served as a guide for his business ethics and decisions throughout his career. Early on, Cathy began closing his 24-hour diner every Sunday to make sure he and his employees had time to spend with their families and for worship.
There’s also the “Cell Phone Coop” challenge, where families who place their cell phones in a small box on each table and leave them there for the meal receive free ice cream cones. The goal is to get people to spend the meal actually talking to each other. How many businesses do you know that are trying to promote family togetherness by giving away free stuff?
A remarkable company culture can’t be replicated with an app or a fancy ad campaign. It has to be created from within so that it radiates out.