4 Free Ways to Test Your Business Idea
Entrepreneurs frequently think they’ve stumbled upon the next “big idea,” and then soak thousands of dollars into it only to discover it was a flop.
To avoid this entrepreneurial money pit, use these four resources to test your business idea. Make sure your audience will enjoy it as much as you do before you ever shell out your first dime.
1. Facebook/LinkedIn Groups
Social media is often overlooked as a useful tool for planning and organizing business ventures. Join some industry-related groups and you can find a wealth of knowledge from people who have years of experience.
If you are worried about revealing too much and having someone steal your ideas, then break it up. Share just a small portion of your idea with one group and see how it is received, then share another small nugget with another group. If the overall consensus is that the idea is solid, you have got a strong case for moving ahead. If your idea really can’t be segmented, build a relationship with a few people in your groups and ask them to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
2. Google Keyword Tool
After you start to move forward with your idea, you will need a website to share information. This website will need to be search engine optimized, and you’ll also want to be aware of your competition. If these terms seem like a foreign language to you, don’t close up shop just yet. You can have someone who specializes in online business and website optimization do all the dirty work for you. However, doing a little research on the front end can tell you a lot about the viability of your business idea without taking money out of your pocket.
Think about the kind of keywords that people might use to search for the product or service you will be offering, then head over to Google’s free keyword tool. Enter a few of the search phrases and see what results are returned. If all the corresponding keywords have high competition, you know there are lots of people interested in your niche, but you’ll also need to know the competition will be fierce. If almost no results are returned, it may be that your idea isn’t viable or needs some adjusting.
3. Amazon Kindle Search
Professional eBook writers often use Google’s Keyword Tool to generate book ideas. They find which niches are currently popular, then conduct research and write books related to these topics. If using the keyword tool is just a little too intimidating for you, or if you would like to verify your findings, you can piggyback on their research by searching through the Kindle books currently available on Amazon.
Head over to Amazon’s Kindle Book Store and search for the keywords related to your idea. If you find lots of books available, that’s a pretty good indicator that the market is interested in your product or service. If you only find two books by unknown authors with zero ratings, it might be time to head back to the drawing board.
4. Crowdsourcing (Kickstarter)
You can get feedback for your business idea by using a crowdsourcing platform like Kickstarter. While this method is the most labor-intensive on our list, it also provides the most useful feedback and could even put some money in your pocket to help you develop your product. There are several crowdsourcing platforms out there, but Kickstarter is one of the most widely recognized and has one of the largest audiences.
To put your product or service on Kickstarter, create a free account and gather some information relating to your future business. Kickstarter loves video presentations, so if you can create a short video that explains your idea, it will be more likely to be accepted. You can get on camera yourself or you can create a video using free video animation software like GoAnimate.
Once your project is created and accepted on Kickstarter, anyone out there can pledge money to help get your campaign off the ground. Once your project is fully funded, you’ll be well on your way to successfully implementing your idea. Remember, if you don’t meet your fundraising goal, all the pledges will be returned. While this may be a bummer, at least you know your idea didn’t get enough buzz to take off, so it’s better to know and rethink it before investing your time and money.
By using these four methods, you can get feedback from your target audience. This will give you an understanding of how receptive people are of what you’re offering, as well as what you need to improve before growing your business.