With today’s fleeting preferences and rapidly changing markets, it’s difficult to how to know which idea you should invest your time and money in and which you should forget forever.
This can make it seem like pursuing a new business idea isn’t worth effort. That sticking to your traditional revenue stream or 9-5 job is the best bet for making sure the bills are paid and avoiding a financial and professional catastrophe.
But despite how it may seem, there’s more opportunity than ever today to turn an idea into a booming business. There’s more resources, more support, more channels, and more customers available at your fingertips than ever before.
All you need—and it’s no small feat—is a brilliant idea that people actually want.
Here are three steps you can take now that will help you know whether or not your business idea is worth pursuing.
Research, research, research
The biggest advantage of anyone starting a business today is the vast amounts of information out there online, in books, the media, webinars, podcasts, YouTube videos, and everywhere else.
You can not only use these rich sources of information to build a case to support the viability of your idea, but you can also see directly if there’s already a market where you can slot into.
If there’s a market for your product/service, then chances are there are already market reports, trade journals, and blogs on the topic, as well as coverage in the media. All these are a good sign there’s people out there who’re interested and in need of solutions, and by doing such research you may even find whole new niches and problems you never ever knew about.
Solve a profitable problem
Your business idea may be amazing, but if it doesn’t solve a problem for someone, and it doesn’t do so in a better way than the solutions that are already out there, then it’s going to have limited success.
To know if your idea solves a problem, you first need to know who your customers are. It’s all well and good knowing you’re targeting middle-aged professionals, but knowing your customers means understanding much more: what drives them, their income, their buying habits, how and why they make purchasing decisions, and where they usually like to shop.
The best way to find out this information is, unsurprisingly, by talking to people. You can conduct surveys or polls online, interview potential customers, and search for existing data on your demographic. You can then pull the results together and you’ll have a much clearer picture of why your idea is the perfect solution for your customers.
Run a beta test
The only way to really know if your idea has legs is to get it out there and test it. Often it’s only when you start testing it in the real world, or with a small representative sample, do you begin to discover its potential.
When left in the studio or lab in the conceptual phase, it’s easy to overlook the tricky and not so rosy aspects of a business idea. In a world free from the preferences of customers and the pressure and resources of competitors, any idea can seem like it’s destined to succeed.
For this reason, its paramount to get your idea out there in some form or other as early as possible. This means facing the fact that there is a high chance of failure. But the quicker you get it out there, the less you’re invested in the immediate success and the more feedback you’re able to cycle into the development.
There’s no definitive way to know if a business idea is successful. But if you follow the steps above and combine them with an ardent passion for what you’re doing, then you’re sure to set the stage for a positive outcome.
Joseph Pennington is a freelance writer from the Old North. Connect with him on LinkedIn and find articles on work, technology, mindfulness, and more.