Business idea validation is a useful method to see if your business idea, has legs, will fly, has potential, is landed..... all those annoying phrases everyone uses in business land.
Essentially, as I am sure you perfectly understand in your own land, it answers the question
Does this business idea have any hope of taking off?
Which is a sensible question to ask and can save you a lot of time and money and frustration in the long run.
My reason for bringing it to you is because recently, I came across this method from a man called Brian Rose from California and was a very successful banker in the City of London, who, as we all often do at some point in our lives, asked the question:
What am I doing here? What is the point of what I am doing?
He answered that question by leaving the city and starting his own business in online broadcasting on YouTube.
He has since gone on to have a very successful interview business online called London Real, has created a signature business course, run only a handful of times per year which helps people go from business idea to start up and is doing rather well from himself.
He is also an Iron Man athlete, a husband and father so he has a very busy life.
He discusses his journey in a Ted Talk and explains what thought processes and practical action he used to get to where he is now from there.
I learned of this business idea validation tool during a free session Brian offers to introduce you to his Business Accelerator Programme (the one he only offers a handful of times per year).
You know, one of those sessions that flag up in your Facebook feed and you join?
I have to say, it was a quality session before his main pitch for the course, which was also excellent.
Broadly, the free training session was about the topic of coming up with a business idea that works, and this little gem of information came at the business idea validation stage.
I thought you might find it useful to use when it was your turn with your business for the validation stage.
So here is the method:
Essentially, you take a piece of paper and divide it into 4 sections like the graphic below.
You take your idea and apply the business idea validation principle to it.
So let me explain what I mean.
Say your idea is to start a baby clothes business?
Before you even have registered a domain name, bought business cards or stock you go through your process outlined by the box headings.
They were in the following order but I suspect you could evaluate however you choose as long as you cover all 4 sections.
You are checking to see if your idea has a place in the world, with your stamp on it.
Small business marketing is not my specialist subject but I do know if you have the right business for the right people it makes the marketing stage effortless.
Ask your network if they think you have a good idea about starting a baby clothes business.
If you are a parent, you can ask the people you know and they will no doubt have opinions of their own.
Aside from the ones, who secretly are jealous or don't want you to do well you could glean a mine of information such as what is missing in the market, what they love, what they don't love, what their gripes are about quality, price, accessibility to the market, any number of things really.
They will no doubt quiz you too about your idea so it becomes a really useful conversation with potential product users.
The feedback you get here could actually make your change your mind, develop your idea entirely differently or just tweak it a bit further.
I would also add, if you want more information go to your networks network too and spread the net a little wider.
Don't be shy about asking, you need this valuable information to move forward towards a successful venture.
And don't discount people who you think will be "negative" because they may just have information you hadn't given any consideration to and it could be the difference between doing well, and not.
Business idea validation off line means you ask real people BUT outside of your network.
Real people who might use your product or service, so you could survey people outside the school gate, hold a focus group of some kind.
Go to the places you will find your buyers and ask them,
Check out Amazon, Ebay, other websites, online publications, Google your idea and see what other people are doing.
Competition is good, it means there is a space for you, you just have to pitch it right.
You might ask the question, but what if my market is saturated?
Well, the research you are doing is showing what is out there and you then have the ability to tweak your idea, rather than just unleashing it on the world in the same way everyone else does.
So if you are finding, "everyone has a baby clothes business!" This is your opportunity to put your spin on it...
Pick a theme, a niche, use your own personal experience or problem, have you a complaint or have you experienced any kind of threat (in this case could be low supply of Christmas outfits as an example), is there a trend you can see.
If a service, who is doing it online.
Make a spreadsheet if you like and start documenting who is doing what?
Where do you sit among this group?
What are you offering that is a solution to someones problem?
This is your opportunity to go out in the world and visit real life shops, markets, malls and so on to see if your product or service is available and who is buying it.
This is business idea validation in the raw, it is good to get out from behind the keyboard and feel what you are doing as well as using all that logic.
Sit outside a store or go to places it is sold offline.
Books stores, supermarkets,.
You need to see what people are actually buying.
Even if you have a service business you can evaluate if books are written about the topic, or see where people advertise in places other than online.
Local publications and even the post office notice board can reveal useful information.
For example, this is where you will often find tutors advertising their services or a cake maker perhaps or someone who offers massage at home or a hairdresser.
Or even a second hand baby clothes business!
I hope this simple business idea validation process helps you.
In the long run, it will save you launching the wrong business to the wrong people.
Starting a business is hard enough right, you need all the free help you can get?
Applying these simple techniques, to any business at any time should alert you to potential difficulties or highlight your brilliance.
It will definitely be one or the other....:)