If you’re thinking of launching out on your own to take advantage of the myriad YouEconomy opportunities, the concept of risk is probably a close bedfellow. You’ve wondered if this business idea is going to work, if it’s going to work for YOU, and if you’re a little bit crazy to leave what’s become so comfortable.
The bad news is that there are no guarantees. Yes, joining the YouEconomy as a business owner carries risk. Any new endeavor does.
The good news is that you can mitigate that risk a bit by doing your homework and validating your business idea before you get in too deep. (Or after you’re in too deep… better late than never!)
Here are four ways to validate your business idea:
1. Google Trends: The search engine giant has a tool that’s specifically for marketers called Google Trends. In it, you can find what people are searching for right now, what searches are similar to your topic, and where it’s most popular. You can access a year-in-review report for 2018 (and several previous years), which compiles annual search data to show the added dimension of seasonal fluctuation or a multi-year span. Google Trends also has a subscriptions section that lets you input your topic and get notified on a regular basis when noteworthy events occur related to your topic. You can also limit the location and the frequency of the report.
Google Trends also has a subscriptions section that lets you input your topic and get notified on a regular basis when noteworthy events occur related to your topic.
2. Amazon: If there’s a book on your business, that’s a good thing. Sure, having a unique business idea is nice, but if there are already people interested enough in your topic to write and read a book about it, that’s a good sign. Search for books related to your business, research the authors and their communities, and see what people are saying in the reviews. You’ll get a good snapshot of the current state of your topic in the business world, and you can see who your competition is right now—a little healthy competition is a sign of a thriving market. If you don’t find anything on Amazon related to your topic, be sure to take step No. 3 before you jump into business.
3. Survey: Ask people who would be your ideal clients what they want, need, and think about your business topic. This might mean surveying them with an app like Typeform or Survey Monkey. Or it might be as simple as posting on social media with a question or two. Your understanding of people’s pain points, experience with ineffective solutions and hope of finding a solution that works will go a long way toward shaping a business and services that sell. There’s no substitute for firsthand feedback.
4. Start small: It’s tempting to make a big splash with your business launch, but in reality, starting small with a test service or product is a much less stressful way to validate your idea before you spend big time or money. Developing a minimum viable product (a term coined by Frank Robinson of SyncDev in 2001) means creating something that has just enough of what people need and gives them just enough results to prove out success or failure. It allows you to measure performance, make adjustments, and visualize potential without a lot of up-front investment… or risk.
Explore these options to validate your business idea, and remember that while there’s no way to ensure your success, the one way to ensure failure is to never try.
One final note on validating your idea: You will get lots of feedback from family and friends. You might hear a lot of reasons your idea won’t work, a lot of news reports about the state of the economy, and a lot of personal experience that paints your business in a negative light.
But here’s the number one question to ask when you hear this kind of feedback: Is the person giving me their opinion either an expert in this field or my ideal potential customer?
If the answer is no, then you have to learn to take this kind of negative forecasting with a grain of salt. Yes, your loved ones have your best interests at heart. But not everyone is an expert. And not everyone is your ideal client. Those are the two people who you really need to weigh in.
If your dream is to own a business, then do your homework, validate your idea, and let me know when you launch! I’ll be cheering you on from the trenches!
Solopreneurs Are Soaring
Solopreneurs are bringing in the bucks!
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of single-person businesses (non-employer firms) earning $1 million to $2.49 million in revenue jumped 33 percent from 2011 to 2015. That’s a huge increase, and it’s not limited to the millionaire set. The number of businesses bringing in six figures is up too, which means we’ll probably see them hit their first million soon.
As solopreneurs gain more experience and expertise, they can shape and scale their businesses to increase revenue. Between contractors and online infrastructure, the potential to run lean and profitable has never been higher.
Related: The Side Hustler’s Handbook
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Photo by @CRAFT via Twenty20