Startup Advice

How to test a business idea

Jack Stratten

Quick and handy tips on testing your business idea before you unleash it

Test before you launch. No matter how good your idea is, or how far your friends think it will go, you need to find reliable evidence of its worth before you start your business. So here are a few simple ways of testing your ideas quickly and easily, giving you the assurance and insights you need to hit the ground running.

Launch a simple landing page test

It’s very cheap and easy to test your idea online.

WordPress offers a free route to creating a landing page, or if you’re planning on testing a range of products over a period of time, you could pay for a more robust service like unbounce. There are even businesses like QuickMVP that are dedicated to testing business ideas through landing pages.

Essentially you need to include a concise explanation of what you’re offering, and then a clear ‘call to action’ including the price. You need to know what your customer will pay for your product, and what action they’re willing to take (i.e. will they leave personal details, will they download something).

You should also squeeze in some of the key benefits of your product or service. Tell your customer what’s different about it, and why they should choose your business over anyone else’s.

Ideally, create a few different pages so you can test different prices, and perhaps, different ways of expressing the benefits.

Understand what success looks like

If 100 people say yes to buying your product for £10, does that mean it’s a viable business? Before you test, make sure you know how many sales, or at least how much confirmed interest, you need to make your business viable.

If you don’t get the response you need, you don’t necessarily have to throw in the towel however. Instead, look at how you’re promoting the product or service: the name, logo, benefits and prices. Are you capturing whatever is unique about your business?

Meet customers face to face

There are still few better ways of working out the quality of an idea than meeting your customers in person.

Organising a small focus group is a good place to start, but consider the following tips first:

• Get the right number of people for your group, ideally somewhere between 5 and 10. Less than 5 could provide limited insights, while more than 10 could make the discussion difficult to control
• Make sure you have something clear to show the group: a product, a logo, a website etc.
• Have clear and open-ended questions prepared
• Ensure you have a comfortable, quiet and private location to meet in
• Find people who accurately reflect your target market

Use Google AdWords

Google AdWords will bring traffic to your landing page, and it's also an effective means of testing the capability of your brand and product in and of itself.

Setting up an AdWords account is straightforward, free to sign up for, and you only pay when someone clicks your ad. You can also set clear budget limits to ensure that, if your ad becomes very popular, you aren’t suddenly liable for excessive fees.

You can find out more and set up your first ad here.

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