How to Test Your Small Business Ideas Online

You have some amazing ideas, or so you think. But do any of them merit your time and attention for a full-blown business venture? Maybe. Maybe not. How can you tell? One of the best ways to determine if you have a marketable idea is to test it before you roll it out. Here's how to go about doing that.

Ask Your Social Media Contacts

You've got lots of friends on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Why not ask some of these people about your small business ideas? It's entirely possible that what you're proposing has been done before. Then again, it might be an entirely new idea. Reach out to your social media connections.

Set up a public poll, or simply ask people directly, about your new business idea. If you're a bit skittish about telling the whole world about your new idea without patent or trademark protection, then send individual emails to people.

If you have done a good job of forging strong relationships with your social network, you will get responses - especially if you ask people nicely for their honest opinion.

Survey People In Your Target Market

Your target market is the lifeblood of your business. Sending out a survey might just be one of the best things you can do to gain traction in your industry. But, how do you put together a survey? Simple, you have two choices. You can gather information through the Standard Rate and Data service (SRDS) and send out physical mailers or you can do all of this online.

If you choose the online survey route, be sure to get yourself set up with a reputable survey company, like Surverymonkey or something similar. Use pay-per-click platforms to get the word out and advertise your survey, or use social networking, offline classified ads, or a combination of all three ad methods.

After you've gathered about 2,000 responses, you can analyse the results. This should give you a statistically significant dataset to work with. If you've phrased your questions properly, you should be able to piece together at least one good product or service idea that either validates or invalidates your business idea.

If your survey validates your business idea, set up a corporation, a website, and get to work raising money for your venture. If the survey invalidates your idea, at least you know and you won't waste time on a dead idea.

Put Up A Website

A website is the most direct and obvious way to go if you already have a product idea that you really want to sell. Will it work? Set up a website and see if anyone buys. Yes, it doesn't have to be more complicated than that. Now, this is admittedly the most risky way to go about doing things because you could end up spending a lot of money only to be shellacked by the marketplace.

Still, companies have gone this route and won the day. Take Amazon, for example. It didn't poll customers before starting an online book store. It just went ahead and did it. Apple didn't ask people if they wanted an iPhone. It just made one and sold it. If you've got an earth-shattering invention that you think could change the world, this approach is probably the only way that makes sense. You might fall flat on your face, but you might also be the next Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs



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