There’s certainly no lack of business ideas out there. If you’re anything like me, you probably can’t turn around without elbowing another idea out of the way. Someone should make a business out of this, you think, as you go about your day. Then you start thinking about all the ways your brilliant invention could be used and dollar signs start cha-chinging in your head. Before you know it, you’re buying domain names and filling out state paperwork.
Woah there! Before you dive right in, make sure you thoroughly research your idea. As a business mentor and lawyer, I’ve seen lots of businesses come and go (my own included). And let me tell you, there’s nothing sadder than seeing someone close up shop with piles of debt because their idea fell flat.
Make sure your idea is worth the time and energy you’ll put into it before printing new business cards.
Not sure how to validate your idea? That’s okay, I’ve got you covered with these four tips!
Do a quick search on Google, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Etsy, or other appropriate websites to see if someone else is already acting on or making your idea. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, congratulations! You’ll still need to evaluate whether people will actually pay for what you want to create, but at least you don’t have competition.
Now, if you do find your product out there, it doesn’t mean you have to abandon ship, but you’ll need to scope out the competition. How can you improve your product or make it a memorable experience so that it is stands out to potential customers?
If your idea is the type that takes some research and moola to get off the ground, consider using a crowdfunding campaign to see if there’s enough interest. The nice thing about this technique is that you don’t invest thousands of dollars developing a product that ends up rotting in your garage. If you don’t gain enough interest, you don’t move forward with development—simple as that! On the other hand, popular crowdfunding campaigns can pick up speed and reach hundreds of people in a very short period of time. What better way to confirm your idea is a good one, and reach a very large market at the same time?
In these days of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, there’s just no excuse for not building an audience before you launch. Leverage the appropriate social media channels to build a following before you actually develop the product (people love behind-the-scenes sneak peeks!). When you’re ready to release your brilliance upon the world, there will be a group of people already waiting to purchase. Another nice aspect of this strategy is that you can refine and tailor your idea for your audience before launching, making it that much more likely that they’ll buy what you have to offer.
Start selling your idea before you actually put it together. Similar to Tip #2 (but without the middleman), start promoting your product and take a set number of pre-orders before launching into production. The ease (and number) of selling in advance will give you a pretty good idea whether people will be chomping at the bit to purchase your brainchild.
It can be time consuming, but doing your homework ahead of time will save you a ton of heartache and money.