Researching a new business idea: a how-to guide

Aja Stuart

Before it’s tested, a great business idea is just an idea with possibility.

Whether your business idea was a bolt-of-lightning epiphany or a slow burn, the next step is to do your research. After all, unless you have piles of money lying around collecting dust, you’ll want to know if your idea has legs before you start pumping funds into it.

You’ll want to know if your idea has legs before you start pumping funds into it.

Idea testing doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive process. In fact, with a little elbow grease and a hint of manoeuvring, you can come away with good insights into the viability of your business for next to nothing. Better still, you can begin building traction for your potential business before you’ve even started it.

Where to begin? How you conduct your research will vary, depending on what your product or service is and who’s on your contact list, but there are a few ways to find the information you need, whatever your idea might be.

Find your would-be customers

Asking for feedback from the people you want to sell your product to is probably the best way to figure out if they will buy it or not.

Find where they hang out, go to the places and events people who might use your product would go to.

This doesn’t have to be an expensive market research group. Find where they hang out, go to the places and events people who might use your product would go to, you could even door-knock if your customers are homeowners. Get up and go to them.

The wealth of information you receive from your efforts will help you tweak and improve your idea, pivot and refocus it, or drop it entirely and move on to the next one. It has the potential to save you years of time and who knows how much money.

Get some honest feedback

Friends and family can be great for support, but not always the best at objectivity. As much as we all love to hear encouragement and praise from our loved ones, when researching the viability of a business idea it’s more valuable to be brave (and humble) and search out some honest, unbiased feedback.

Mine your network to find people who can give you an objective opinion. Colleagues, ex-bosses, and mentors are all great sources of feedback. You could also attend an event at your local Chamber of Commerce and ask experienced business owners what they make of your idea.

Believe it or not, the bad feedback is often your most valuable.

Believe it or not, the bad feedback is often your most valuable. It can give you the opportunity to fix potential problems before they occur and help you create a truly great offering. Don’t be scared or discouraged!

Create a landing page

Landing pages can be a fantastic, economical source of information and validation for your would-be product. However, if you’re going to build a landing page, make sure you know why you’re doing it. Put another way, to be successful, your landing page needs to be built around the outcome you want.

It’s very simple to throw up a landing page with a sign up button and begin to collect the email addresses of interested potential customers. That’s all well and good. You’ve started to build a little traction and now have a group of people you can contact when you want to release your product.

However, if you want to get market validation and test your idea, you’ll have to put in a bit more thought. For example, if you want to gather feedback about how much your customers are actually willing to pay for your product (or if they’re willing to pay at all) you might consider including a price point or pricing plan somewhere on your page.

Figure out the questions you need answers to and build your landing page around gathering that data.

The idea behind a MVP is that you don’t end up making something nobody wants.

Build a Minimum Viable Product

A Minimum Viable Product, or MVP, is the absolute bare-bones skeleton of the product you want to create. It’s cheap. It’s cheerful. It’s how you test your product without spending oodles of cash on a state of the art product.

The idea behind a MVP is that you don’t end up making something nobody wants. Unleashing your MVP onto the world should garner you enough feedback to lose the features that aren’t getting any love, and build in the features that everyone’s clamouring for. Your end product will be tailored to your customer’s desires before they even get their hands on it. And after all the research you’ve put in, they’ll want to get their hands on it.

So put in the basic features that you intend your product to have, and go for it.

Giving yourself time to hear real, honest feedback about your business idea helps you build an informed roadmap of your intended offering, and could be critical to your success. Not only that, the time and money you can save makes it more than worth it.

Aja Stuart

Aja is Sydney-based writer and serial entrepreneur. She regularly writes about small business, entrepreneurship, and health and wellbeing. Her latest entrepreneurial adventure is yeahmama.co.

Image: ITU study groups - World Cafe, Flickr Creative Commons license

PARTNER CONTENT
Five start-up success stories you need to know about

It’s often hard to pin down the magic ingredient that separates one startup success from another failed venture. Find out how you can make the most of the odds.

×