When inspiration strikes and you think you have hit upon a truly innovative business idea, it may be tempting to crack open the champagne and then crack on with turning it into a reality. However, there are a whole heap of hurdles to overcome in the interim, compounded by the fact that if you are slow to act, someone else might beat you to market and steal your thunder.
With all this in mind, having a good way to validate your business idea as soon as possible is essential. This can both motivate you to move forward with it, as well as being a way to convince others to get involved as it builds momentum.
The following steps should streamline the validation process and quickly let you sort the wheat from the chaff of your bubbling business idea brainstorming sessions.
Search For Your Idea Online
Before you get excited about your brilliant business concept, temper your enthusiasm by seeing whether or not it has already been developed and pursued by a third party. This is easily done by typing a few relevant keywords into the search engine of your choice, hitting enter and scouring the results for anything of interest.
Of course, it is also worth pointing out that your idea does not have to be truly original to be worth pursuing; indeed sometimes it is the business concepts that already exist that are the most suitable for further investigation. For example, if you decide to start your own blog, you might be able to triumph because you might have a much better content than your rivals, or simply because you believe you can execute it more effectively and stake your claim to a significant share of an established market.
Get Input From Others
It is all too easy to become single-minded in your pursuit of that seemingly perfect, previously untapped business idea. This can, of course, leave you blinkered to the kind of constructive criticism and feedback that people who have a bit of distance from the concept can provide.
As Foundr outlines, you need to be willing to share your idea with those whose opinions you respect and, more importantly than that, take any input they provide onboard, rather than forging on even if the general consensus is that it is a non-starter.
Produce A Prototype
If your business idea involves a tangible product, it may be hard to convince anyone that it has valuable without being able to let them experience it first-hand.
Of course in the digital era, the world’s most influential and successful businesses have largely been based around software and related services which may not benefit from prototyping in this way. Indeed such tech titans as Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos whose revolutionary ideas and approaches are now being spread in the “best business books” collections used prototyping as their dominant strategy.
Regardless, if it is obvious that prototyping makes sense in the context of your concept, it will be very valuable. And with the dawn of affordable 3D printing, it is now cheaper and easier than ever to create a proof of concept that will let you assess whether or not your idea is workable in practice as well as desirable from a consumer perspective.
Build A Brand
The best idea in the world can fail to flourish if it is not supported by suitable brand identity. In some cases, up to half of a firm’s value can be tied into its brand.
The sooner you start thinking about how to develop a brand for your fledgling business, the better chance it has of succeeding in the long term and realizing the potential of that initial kernel of a concept.
At this point, you will likely be looking to recruit outsiders to work with you on your project, so it is possible to delegate branding efforts if it makes sense and is feasible within the constraints of your resources. It also pays to turn your view outwards again at this point and see how your rivals are handling brand identity, as this will help both shape your message while also making it distinct and memorable, rather than feeling like a poor imitation.
Shoring up your brand against interlopers is also vital at this stage, just as it is important to protect your IP and stop your ideas from being exploited once word starts to get around.
Additionally, the team at WhoIsHostingThis suggest that something as simple as looking for a domain name and a reliable host for your business website can be a great step to take, especially if it requires some special knowledge. This, as many other aspects of validating your business idea, requires swiftness and decisiveness of action, since procrastination can negatively impact more than just your firm’s short-term prospects of growth.
Find Your Customers
For most businesses, one of the most significant challenges they face in their early stages is actually getting customers to commit to taking a risk on their as-yet unproven product or service.
Because of this, you need to make sure that as soon as your concept is starting to take shape, you also think about where you will find your early customers, how you will engage them and the means by which you will convince them to take a chance on what you have to offer them.
Acquiring and keeping customers is of course something that organizations of all sizes have to battle to achieve, but if you can lay out your plans to tackle this sooner rather than later, it will make your business idea look all the more appealing and well-founded to anyone who might be looking to invest or involve themselves in other ways.
In the end, you need to be relatively ruthless and deliberately discerning when developing and dissecting any business idea. You also need to come around to the fact that most start-ups do not succeed, and endeavor to learn lessons from those that have gone before. Burying your head in the sand could be sorely tempting, but being realistic and methodical will let you avoid common pitfalls.
Interesting related article: “What is a startup?“