Before you waste your time and money on a new business idea, do these steps first
Validate your business idea. To “Validate” your business idea simply means to test it. There are several ways you can validate your business idea prior to investing time and a lot of money. You can also use the Validation Method for existing businesses for those of you who want to add a product or service to your business. Here is a step by step guide on how to validate your business idea.
If you’re like a lot of people who want to start a business but can’t figure out what type of business to start, validating your business idea first, prior to launching a business, is the best way to go. For those of you who want to start a business however you’re working a full-time job, with limited time and money, validating your business idea is a great way to test your business idea before stepping out into the entrepreneurship role full time. When you’re unsure if your business idea will work-validate your business idea first.
First, write down your ideas on paper. Out of the list of ideas, choose 2-3 business ideas that you want to test.
If you’re unsure of what type of business to start, here is a list of 80 different Business Ideas to choose from:
Sell items on Amazon
Online Consignment Store
Phone Repair Technician
Social Media Manager
Presentation Design Consultant (good for startup companies who need someone to create presentations)
Home based Chef
Healthy Meal Prep Chef (seek out nutritionists and personal trainers to offer your services)
Online Dating Consultant
Buy and Sell Domains
Real Estate Agent
Pet Couture Designer (collars, clothes, travel bag)
Dog Day Care
Copywriting for websites
Air BNB Host
Personal Fitness Trainer
Accounting and Book Keeping
Workforce Training Consultant
Mobile Dry Cleaning
Small Business Consultant
Social Media Strategist
Still undecided on what type of business to start? Ask yourself the following questions:
What are your hobbies?
What do you enjoy doing?
If you could spend 8 hours a day earning the salary you want doing what you love what would it be?
Choose the one thing or 3 things that you want to be remembered by?
Once you’ve chosen 2-3 ideas to work on now it’s time to get down to business!
Who is your target audience? Is it single mothers looking for affordable day care? Young men ages 18-24, who consider themselves “hip hop heads”? Women with disposable income who don’t mind splurging on a $400.00 a designer purse?
The idea of launching a business is to solve your customers problems. Questions to ask yourself when identifying your customer’s pain points:
What do your customers want?
Are your customers looking to generate more income?
Does your customer need help with financial planning?
Are your customers looking for relationship advice?
Benefit of your business idea
What is the true benefit of your business idea?
Test your offering Exercise
Create “mock” offers. “Our new Bermuda collection just launched today! Shop our store this weekend and receive 20% off”. “Mock offers” add value while providing solutions for your customers problems. They’re receiving something of value in exchange for their purchase, a great piece of clothing from your store with added savings. This exercise will help you with your sales pitch as well as your offering for marketing campaigns.
Assess your skills
Always remember this, you don’t need to attend a school to become an entrepreneur. You can very well work with what you have, in terms of skills, resources, talent, knowledge and experience. Assess your skills to determine what you have that will work in your favor as a business owner.
What resources do you currently have to get started with your business? What resources do you need to get started?
What tasks can you outsource? Delegating tasks will help you to remain productive which will allow you to focus on what matters the most in your business.
Research if anyone has started the same business as you or if the business concept exists. Even if the business idea already exists, don’t let that discourage you! Find out if there are ways that you can “tweak” the business or enhance it. Nike, Adidas and Puma are all shoe companies however, they each have a unique offering. Most people have at least one item from each company, a pair sneakers from Nike, A back pack from Puma or a sweat shirt from Adidas. Each company has something that everyone likes which is why they have no problem competing in the same market.
Instead of purchasing a website and investing thousands of dollars in marketing your products or service, send out an introduction email of your products and services to your network including family and friends. You’re accomplishing two things, testing your business idea and you’re getting valuable feedback to decide if you should pursue the idea. You may even get a customer out of it!
Ask your network to forward your email to any interested parties. The feedback may give you an idea on if you should pursue the business or not. Note: Having family and friends provide feedback can get a little “tricky”. They may not provide you with the valuable, honest feedback you need. The benefit of reaching out to complete strangers is you get an idea of who your target audience is and how they truly feel about your offering.
Set a 30-day plan to launch your idea
30 days is enough time to narrow down your top 2-3 ideas, research your ideas, create an offering and start building your email list.
You can start a business without having a website. Instead of taking the time out to build a website yourself or paying for a web developer to create one for you, opt for Landing pages. Landing Pages give you more flexibility than with websites. You can test out different offerings of your products on your Landing Page or use the Landing Page to build your email list.
Most website service providers have low affordable and sometimes “free” landing pages for businesses. You can track the analytics of the number of people who visit your landing page and even have a link with a “sign up to find out when we’ll officially launch” feature. This will help you build your email list as well as build up the “hype” about your product or service. What’s an email list? An email list is a customer base that you can market to on a consistent basis which is why it’s important to have customers sign up on a subscriber list. A landing page is also a great tool to use for pre-launches or pre-orders.
List of Landing Page Service Providers
Early Feedback group
Create a “Feedback Group”. A “Feedback Group” provides you with information regarding your products or services. They’re either in your network or on your mailing list. Your feedback group should consist of your target audience as well. For example, create a Facebook group to gain feedback. Either join existing Facebook groups where your target audience is or create your own.
Join online communities and forums
An online community or forum will give you the opportunity to engage and build relationships with your target audience. Rather than coming across as being “spammy” by posting your products and services, it’s best to introduce yourself, before your brand. Add valuable insight to the conversations in the forum. Then ask the following:
“Hey everyone, I’m thinking about starting a_____” continue with “Where do you think I should get started first”? Once people respond, invite the most actively engaged participants to sign up to your Feedback group. “Hello__ thank you for the feedback, I really appreciate it! I’m definitely going to take your advice. Hey, would like to stay updated on the project?”
The object is to get the audience to talk about their “pain points”. Use that feedback to create a differentiating product or service.
Expand your reach
To expand your reach, sign up for social media platforms such as Instagram or Twitter. Include your social media contact information on your landing page, as well as plug ins to have people easily join your feedback group. Social media is another way to get feedback from more than one platform.
Build a list
Create a spreadsheet of those who request to stay updated on your projects or your subscribers. When you’ve reached your target number, you can then focus your efforts on those who are on your list. Add the feedback from your focus group onto your spreadsheet. You can also use the list to build a “pre-launch” list of those who are interested in your products.
Run Pay Per Click campaigns
“Pay Per Click” campaigns is the least cost-effective way to market your brand. Most ads cost a minimum of $0.50 up $100.00+. You can usually start and stop a campaign whenever you like, check the analytics and get instant feedback on how your campaigns are doing. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on marketing campaigns that don’t produce results, Pay Per Click Ads gives your instant performance analytics.
Google Ad words
With Google Ad words, you can reach your customers with text-based search ads, graphic display ads, You Tube video ads, or in-app mobile ads. Google Ad words gives you the option to reach potential customers locally or globally.
Why choose Facebook? Facebook has a total number of 1.79 Billion monthly active users. With Facebook Ads, you can select your audience by age, location, demographics and behaviors. You can run your ads on Facebook, Instagram and you can even choose to run ads on certain mobile devices. You can select your budget and chose how you long you want to run the ad.
What is your competitive advantage?
After you’ve compiled feedback from your focus group determine what your competitive advantage is. Based on the information provided, what can you offer your customers?
The last step of the process is when you’ve hit your business goal. That’s when you know you’ve got a great business concept on your hands. For example, maybe you’ve reached your goal of:
Number of Subscribers
Validating your business idea first, will save you time and money on an idea that may not work. It’s also great for those who want to “test” the idea of becoming an entrepreneur, or for those of you who are working a 9-5 and you’re thinking about stepping into the entrepreneurship role. When your time and resources are limited, you want to ensure that you have a solid business idea before moving forward as an entrepreneur.