Have you ever had a random idea for a business or product pop in your head? If so, what did you do about it? If you’re like most people, you thought about it for a few hours and then moved on to something else. But what if there was a way to quickly research your business ideas without prematurely discarding them?
4 Ways to Research a Business Idea
Businesses don’t materialize out of thin air. They start as seedlings and propagate into small startups before flourishing into healthy, vibrant, and profitable companies. When you have a business idea – small or large – you don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach. In other words, it doesn’t come down to two choices: (A) start a business, or (B) scrap the idea. There’s a middle ground where you can explore the idea in further detail without making any formal or long-term commitment.
The term “market research” can sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be as casual or intensive as you’d like. Here are some simple steps we recommend implementing as you vet your best business ideas:
1. Gather Online Feedback
The easiest way to research a business idea is to go online and bounce it off people. Message boards, forums, and sites like Quora and Reddit are ideal for this purpose.
The key with gathering online feedback is to be vague enough to protect your idea, while specific enough to figure out whether there’s a marketplace for it. It’s also important to make sure you’re communicating with people who would be part of your target market. Otherwise, their insights may not be relevant to your cause.
2. Run a Survey
If you want to investigate a business idea a little deeper and gather more quantifiable insights and data, an online survey is worth the time and investment. It’ll give you a better feel for specific elements of the idea. Plus, the anonymous nature of surveys typically produces more honest and accurate data.
Running an online survey is super easy these days. Thanks to tools like Drag’n Survey, you can create, share, and analyze surveys all within a single platform. And with all of this friction removed, it’s easier to focus on the insights.
3. Try Ghetto Testing
Are you familiar with the term “ghetto testing?” It’s a type of testing that video game companies like Zynga frequently use to gauge the potential for a new release.
Ghetto testing works by creating a five-word pitch for a new product, creating a landing page (try a tool like Unbounce), and then using Facebook advertising and/or Google AdWords to drive traffic to the page. If the page gets a lot of clicks, then it’s a small validation that it could be a viable product. You can then build out a minimum viable product (MVP) and gather more feedback. If the MVP works well, then you can finally move on to the real thing.
4. Analyze the Competition
You can learn a lot about the potential of an idea by studying the current marketplace and researching the competition (or lack thereof).
If there are a lot of competitors offering a similar product or service, this tells you that there’s probably a healthy amount of demand. However, it also tells you that you’ll need a clear differentiating factor to cut through the noise.
If there’s nothing on the marketplace that’s like your idea, then this could be a great opportunity to jump in and fill a void in the marketplace. Take your time and look at the issue from all angles.
Give Your Ideas a Chance
We’re blessed to live in a time and place where ideas can be more than ideas. Anyone can launch a business from anywhere with minimal resources or know-how. Between the internet, cloud technology, crowdsourcing, and social media, there’s a powerful infrastructure in place.
Not every idea you have will be a great one. However, you’ll occasionally run across an innovative idea that’s worth exploring in more detail. Now that you have a framework for evaluating, vetting, and researching these ideas, you have no excuse to toss them aside flippantly. Give your ideas a chance to flourish – you never know what will happen.
Image Credits: Random Business Idea from Gajus/Shutterstock