Test before you Invest

Tips to determine if your new business could actually be a good idea
As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve had my fair share of late-night business ideas. I’ve gone to sleep thinking about a problem and when I awaken, not only do I have a solution, but I also reserve a domain name to go with it. The gift of being innovative is that you are eager to take a risk and start a new venture. The curse of being innovative, is that you come up with so many “good” ideas that you rarely see them through.
However, how would you know if the idea in your head is the next big thing if you don’t pursue it? Trust me, I’ve gone through this dilemma several times. And because of that, I’ve developed these tips for internally testing your new idea before you invest in it.

1) Build a quick and FREE website: If your new business is actually a good idea, you should be able to build a 5 page website overnight. The concept behind this idea is that a website usually displays general but critical information about a product or service for a potential customer. Your 5-page website should tell:
–what the product is
–how it solves a problem
–who benefits
–how much it costs
–how to purchase the product or service
Label each page: Product/Service Description, How it Works, Benefits, Pricing, Customers. Don’t launch the website, but you can pay for a domain if you’d like. Don’t worry about the technical aspects such as quality stock photos and a content strategy just yet. You’re simply visualizing an idea. If you’re able to fill these 5 pages with good information relatively easily, it might be a good indication to pursue the idea a little more in-depth.

2) Develop an objective FAQ: Pretend you are a customer who is just hearing about this idea. You think you may like it, but you have a few concerns. What would those questions be? Write a list of questions about the product such as description questions, customer service related questions, billing questions, ordering questions, deadlines/delivery questions, technical specs questions, contact questions, etc. Think of anything you, “the customer”, would like to know about the business and try to address it.

3) Google (or Bing) your competitors: Compare your business to theirs. What are they lacking? What do you like about them? Jot a few notes about the top 5 competitors that appear in your search engine’s results. A pro’s & con’s list is a decent way to gage whether or not a similar service would address what you feel your competitors lack and where you can fill the void.

4) Be your first customer: There’s no better way to see if something works than to try it on yourself first. Before you spend money on inventory or land a client, you should know how the business will work and IF it will really work in general. So, take it for a whirl!  Use your product/service as if you were a paying customer. Take note about the changes you’d like to make or features you’d like to add, especially when it comes to delivery. Make sure you’re objective or else you wont see the major flaws (yes, there will be flaws) that are in front of your face.

5) Pitch it! Share a general idea about the business with a trusted person. Your pitch should provide enough information to either sway or repel the person you’re talking to. Take note of their questions, concerns, comments and enthusiasm. Make sure to ask what you can do to improve the idea.

These are just a few tips on what you can do to determine if one of your many ideas should be pursued. For more detailed strategies, please contact me. Do you have tips of your own? Share them! I’d appreciate your feedback.

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2 thoughts on “Test before you Invest

  1. Hey Shannon,

    Girl, I like your blog. You see my business consultant did not go into all of these things with me. She was so anxious that she built my website without going into details with me and I was so grateful to have her help that I did not ask alot of questions.

    Not knowing how it all worked I really did not know the right questions to ask so I pretty much just let her do her thing. In actuality I really wanted her to take me step by step and explain to me exactly how it all worked.

    Thank you for being so precise and to the point. This is a new starting point for me.
    You are awesome!

    Gloria

    1. Gloria, your comment is amazing! Most new business owners struggle with the same problem. I can’t wait to reconnect and begin to reshape your business venture. Your personality and enthusiasm speaks volumes! And I didn’t forget my promise– look for your template in the next few days. Best of luck, Shannon

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