Have you got a great idea for a business or product? What are you going to do about it?

A lot of people would dive into the idea, getting really excited and spend every waking hour creating the beginnings of a business, a product or a website.

The enthusiasm is amazing, but guess what, the execution is flawed!

Stop Thinking: Know!

Which of the following makes more sense to you:

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1) Spend 6 months to a year creating and refining a product and on launch it flops

2) Spend a single month validating the idea behind the product to see if it has potential to work

Number two obviously makes more sense, it means that you can fail faster, and move onto bigger and better ideas.

Overcoming the initial excitement after the eureka moment of getting your new idea is hard, but necessary.

Every entrepreneur has to take risks, and some of those risks won’t pan out and you’ll lose money. Mitigating those risks and losses is the difference between a successful entrepreneur and someone who isn’t.

One major issue that you might face, is not knowing how to go about validating your idea. Well, I’ve got you covered.

#1 Is there a market?

One of the easiest ways to check that your idea has merit is to see if there are other products/services/businesses out there that do either the same thing or something similar to your idea.

It’s easy to look at this in a negative way, thinking that just because there is competition you can’t go down that rout.

Wrong! Competition merely validates your idea, the key is making sure you have something that either builds upon, and improves the idea or to outshine your competitors in other areas such as support.

#2 Get feedback

No idea can exist in a vacuum. For a long time I wondered what this meant, but now I understand it. An idea in a vacuum – kept secret from the outside world – can’t be validated.

By sharing your idea with others you can get real world feedback, both positive and negative about the idea.

You can share the idea with multiple different groups, such as peers in your niche or the people in the potential marketplace you will be targeting. Forums are amazing for this sort of thing as there are always several of them focusing on a particular niche.

Industry conferences and similar networking conventions are also ideal places to generate feedback on an idea.

A word of warning, the one place you shouldn’t seek feedback from, at least not solely, is friends and family.

The problem is that they (especially your parents) will generally try to see the positive in the idea for your benefit. This can easily lead to false validation, making you pour time and energy into a flawed idea.

#3 Does your idea solve something?

An interesting way to validate your idea is to seek out problems. Does your idea for a business or product solve a real world problem?

If it does, does it solve it better than existing remedies?

Seeking out people who have the problem you intend to solve and seeing what they are doing about it already can help confirm if your idea has the legs to run.

Even if your product is just one of many that solve the issue, if it can do it in an interesting, unique, cheaper or more effective way, it could still be a great idea.

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Revert to seeking feedback from the people with the issue and you’ll be in a better position due to validating it twice.

#4 Build a list

Create a basic website, outline your idea and ask people to sign up to a mailing list to find out more or be notified when the service is ready.

Use paid adverts (Facebook is awesome for this) to target your potential audience and see how many are willing to find out more!

Buffer, the awesome social post scheduler, did just that. Joel Gascoigne, the person behind the app, created a landing page that he tweeted about and when someone clicked the view plans and pricing page, they actually landed on an email optin form telling them the system wasn’t ready yet and would they like to sign up to find out more.

The validation received from this test was enough validation to turn the idea into a reality.

#5 Build an MVP

MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product and it can be viewed as a type of working prototype. It’s not limited to just physical products or even products in general: you can create an MVP website, or service.

The hardest part about taking a new idea and creating an MVP is the urge to turn the MVP into the full blown product!

An MVP isn’t just an empty shell, it should do enough to actually become your idea. The main thing is that it has no bells and whistles, no features and or additional services.

It’s basic and that’s fine.

If your MVP resonates with the audience, then you can start investing more time, money and resources into improving it.

#6 Sell before you build

One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply find people in your network (family and friends, friends of friends and even people you don’t know), and pitch them the idea.

If they are willing to part with their cold hard cash just based on the idea then you know you are onto something.

Of course, you still need to be careful that close family and friends aren’t falsely validating your idea, but in general if some one is willing to part with money then their platitudes hold more weight.

A more complex version of this is to use a crowdfunding service such as Kickstarter. This requires more effort, you need to have more than just an idea.

With crowdfunding you need at the very least an MVP of some form, plus a structured timeline of what your are going to do to bring the idea to reality.

The great thing about crowdfunding is that not only can you validate an idea, you can get start up capital at the same time!

The Bottom Line

Everyday we think of new and wacky ideas, some of which are just pipedreams but some do hold the promise of a business. The key is to make sure you only follow up on the ones that have real merit to them and the best way to do this is to validate the idea.

Say goodbye to wasted time and money and start working smartly!

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