How to validate an online business idea
So you have an idea for an online business and want to form it into reality. First of all, sit down and explore it. Before you get too carried away, search to find out if it already exists. Learn how to describe your idea because validating it is the key to turning it all into a reality. Validating your idea means testing it before launching it. The purpose is to expose your idea before you launch the final thing.
Here are a few things to consider to help confirm your idea:
Primary research is collecting information yourself. The main way this is done is through polls and surveys. Don’t be tempted to ask your family and connections as they will be biased. Online surveys can provide market feedback for your idea. There are a variety of free tools on the internet that you can use, such as:
When it comes to writing surveys, follow the basic rule of keeping the language simple. Questions should be easy to understand along with labelled options.
Other forms of primary research include interviews and focus groups.
Market research is crucial if you want to understand the existing market. It’s wise to search for any existing solutions that a competitor may offer. This is where secondary research is useful. Secondary research involves collecting data that already exists. Some examples of where to find secondary information include:
- Information on the internet (search engines like Google)
- Libraries and local councils
- Government department and agencies
- Stock lists and consumer data bases
Share your idea and get feedback
If you’re certain that your idea can take shape, get feedback before you start. A big mistake that can be made is keeping your idea to yourself. Talk to those who you trust about the idea. And don’t shake off any negative feedback. You need to be certain that you’re satisfied with your idea and have assessed all the areas . The more you share your idea, the better it will become.
A great way to get feedback is to use online communities. You can get feedback on your idea even if it’s not ready yet. Some of these sites include:
- ProductHunt — start-ups and tech
- GrowthHackers — growth and marketing
- Angel.co — start-ups
- Inbound.org — marketing
Figure out your competitive advantage
What makes you unique? You need to be able to gain more customers than your competitors. Start by thinking about the many factors that will make your idea. This includes: customer support, personal brand, product or service offering and industry knowledge.
If you are struggling to pinpoint your competitive advantage, try going back to your primary research. Go through any conversations, feedback, emails and notes. Highlight any surprising trends or insights.
Test your idea
Treat your idea as a reality. You can do this by pretending your business is already established. Make a website for your business and put your energy into the brand. You don’t need to spend any money to make it look flashy. Make it look presentable so that you can test whether your idea works. Once you gain some traffic, you can start promoting it. If you want to create a free landing page, try Wix, ONTRApages or MailChimp.
Promote your idea
Now that you’ve established your website and have given it a test run, focus on gaining some traffic. The easiest way to do this is via social media. Sign your business up with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Join and create groups with LinkedIn and Google+ where you can comment, share, like and promote your business.
Don’t be afraid of changing your idea. If you gain responses from people who say that your idea needs a few tweaks, then embrace them. Don’t get defensive and keep everything the same.
To sum up
At this point, you will have a live website for validating your idea. Reflect back on any feedback or market research and work on building your brand. If your idea is looking positive, then start thinking about investing into it. You can start building it into your dream company, taking one step at a time.
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