There’s something magical about new ideas. When they first occur to you, they seem shiny and brilliant. You can’t help but feel a little giddy as you imagine your idea for a new app going viral or your bookstore/bar filling up with fond regulars. It’s a great feeling. Then reality sets in, and with it comes doubt. You’re consumed with the question, “What if it’s not that great? What if someone better is already working on this? Or worse, what if no one wants it?” The good news is you’re not alone in that feeling. These highs and lows go hand-in-hand with the creative side of business. You also don’t have to risk thousands of dollars, time, and energy only to find out that your business idea doesn’t work. There are several risk-free, quick, and practically free ways to test your business idea and make sure that it’s ready before you set it loose in the world. Here are some of our favorite tips:
See If Your Idea Has Been Done
They say, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” While you don’t have to create some completely unique business idea that no one’s ever thought of before, your idea may be difficult to sell if there are 50 other businesses out there doing the same thing. The first thing you should do when testing a new idea is to Google it.
You may find that other businesses have already done this or something similar, but that doesn’t mean your idea isn’t meant to be. You just need something that sets your idea apart. Is it the cost? The community support? The access to your idea in your location? What incentivizes your future customers to choose your product or service over the competition?
Get Critiques (Within Your Network and Without)
No founder can look at their plan without bias, so no idea should go into the world without scrutiny. Get as wide a pool of critiques as you can. Ask your friends what they think, your family, potential business partners...and ask people who don’t know you so well, either. Chances are your most honest critiques will come from strangers or recent acquaintances. The people you ask for feedback may notice holes in your plan that you hadn’t considered, and if you’re lucky, they may even be able to brainstorm a solution with you.
Not all the feedback you receive will be positive, and that’s okay. The truth is, even with a brilliant business idea, it won’t work for every individual. The best thing you can do is look at the reaction to your idea as a whole and take only the advice that’s actually helpful to you.
Create a Landing Page
Ever see a call-to-action at the end of an article with a link that says something like, “Click here for more information”? The page you “land on” when you click that link is a landing page. Landing pages are created to help you generate leads for marketing and to warm people up to the product or service you want to sell. If you have an idea for your business, but you’re unsure how customers will receive it, one of the best ways to test it is the use of a landing page. You can use services like Unbounce and Leadpages to create and plug your landing page for a fee or, if you’re handy with HTML, you can save money and create your own. You can even hire an outsource company who can manage the page and lead generation for you.
Your landing page should be set up as if the product or service already exists. Ask people to connect with you on social media, get on a list to download the app when it's ready, or contact you for services and then check the analytics of the page to see how many people take the bite. Even if for now, all they’ll see is a “Coming soon” page, you’ll be able to measure interest and form a list of leads for your coming marketing campaign.
Set Goals for Success
How would you define success when it comes to your business idea? What kind of numbers do you need? If you haven’t thought of this before, you need to come up with a plan as your landing page goes live. What kind of numbers do you need to go ahead with the plan? 100 clicks and sign-ups per week? 1,000? Remember that the numbers you see in your first week will get stronger as your marketing plan strengthens, so you’re looking for a minimum measurement for success.
Start Working on Your Brand
Once you notice interest building on your landing page, it’s time to start thinking of branding. Cultivate a brand that fits the product or service you want to offer, and be consistent with it. You don’t need to have a presence on every social media site, but where you do have a presence, have an active presence. Put your brand out there and get others excited about putting your product out there. Here again, if you don’t have time to consistently work on your brand and social media presence, an outsourced virtual assistant might be useful.
Along the way, you’ll probably become painfully aware of your idea’s flaws. That doesn’t mean you should give up. No business idea was ever perfect from its inception, and no one was born a creative genius. Just keep testing and tweaking until your idea is ready to go into the world.
Ari Meisel's story starts in 2006, when some unexpected news derailed his booming real estate career: Crohn’s Disease: A highly-debilitating digestive ailment, Crohn's barred Ari from leading a normal life. He lost weight, energy, and the ability to work with regularity — in fact, there were times he could only work for sixty minutes a day.
With a blossoming business to run, Ari knew an hour per day was unacceptable. Against the advice of doctors and loved-ones, Ari embarked upon an extraordinarily painful journey to cure what medical textbooks consider an incurable disease.
Through excruciating amounts of trial and error, Ari not only regained control of his life but beat this seemingly unbeatable disease — and is now symptom-free. Less Doing, More Living and Leverage Virtual Assistants are the results of Ari’s amazing journey back to health, happiness, and well-being.