One of the greatest problems with evaluating your own idea lies in the fact that you are extremely subjective. To you, a thought of a new product or a service might seem so brilliant that you may already start planning where to spend your first million. The idea, however, may not be that great. Remember, you are just one person and although you may be somewhat representative of a certain demographic, there is no guarantee that your judgment will reflect the real state of the market.
On the other hand, you can’t just go out and ask other entrepreneurs what they think of your idea or even anonymously post it online. Here, there’s always a chance of someone liking it so much that they try to use it as their own. This is why you need to be quite crafty and innovative in finding a way to validate your startup idea. Here are five methods you just might find useful.
- Write down the concept
Have you ever noticed how some jokes, thoughts and remarks sound better in your head? Same goes for business ideas. Instead of sharing it with someone or just saying all of this out loud, why not put it all to paper. For this, however, you will have to learn how to write a business concept.
You can start by naming your mission, your vision and your values. These features are independent of the market, which is why you can safely handle them first. Next, you should identify your target demographic and try to answer one important question – what kind of problem is your product/service solving? Finally, you need to try and list all the key features of your product and try to discern what is it that will set it apart from its niche counterparts.
- Focus on the problem
In the previous section, we described the way of writing down the concept of your idea. While most people may assume that the most important thing there is identifying the customer, it’s actually a problem that deserves a lot more focus. The first thing you need to determine is how important is the problem you are solving. In other words, you need to be as realistic as possible in answering the question of whether or not people will actually be willing to pay for your services.
For instance, the reason why Uber made such a rapid breakthrough is the fact that they handled a Tier 1 problem – the one of the urban commute. They took a service that everyone needs and found the way to make it cheaper and more convenient. On the other hand, the idea of noise-canceling toilets may seem as something ingenious but how many people are actually willing to pay for this privilege?
- Compose a survey
The most cunning way to validate your startup idea is to try and make a questionnaire. This way, you are concealing your idea, while still revealing all the necessary questions. The problem with questionnaires, especially online questionnaires is that you have no idea if people are actually being honest with their answers.
Probably the best way to solve this problem is to offer the survey participants some form of an incentive to give it their best. One of the ways to do so is by going with paid surveys online. While requiring an initial investment, this technique does stand a chance at providing you with more reliable results.
- Look at the existing solutions
Due to the recent demographic boom, nine percent of all the people who ever lived are currently inhabiting this planet. This means that it is highly unlikely that you are the only person who ever came up with that idea. Sure, some people might have thought about it but never came around to actually use it for business purposes, while others may have tackled the problem you are concerned with a different approach.
Your job is to find all of these existing solutions and determine two things. First, you need to check if their solution is inferior or superior to yours, in other words, whether or not you stand a chance in this industry. Second, you need to see how well are they doing. Check when their company was founded or even take a look at their list of clients and website testimonials.
- Don’t mistake a positive opinion for genuine interest
At the end of the day, if you do decide to reach out to people who are going to make your target demographic, you need to learn how to differentiate between a positive opinion and a genuine interest. For instance, you can approach a potential customer in the street and ask them what they think about your product. The greatest problem here is that they might like the idea but lack the interest of actually buying it. This is why you must always follow up with the additional question in order to try and see which group they fall into.
Even with these five techniques in mind, the fact that your business idea is valid doesn’t 100 percent guarantee your success. You still need a proper business plan, the right business infrastructure and a great marketing campaign. Nonetheless, it is always great knowing that you are onto something that could result in a major business success.