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The Insider’s Guide to Validating Your Idea

Written by Neil on November 20, 2014

Finance for startups

After coming home from the gym last night, I managed to catch the last 5 minutes of the classic sitcom Cheers, an American television comedy series that ran for eleven seasons 1982 to 1993. The show is set in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meet to relax and socialize like one big happy family!

Anyway, it got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could set up my own bar where I can socialize with just friends, family and co-workers? Many people share this dream and they go on to open successful bars, but for many others it doesn’t work out quite as well, leading to a loss of business and possible bankruptcy.

Whether it’s a bar, a restaurant, a bookshop or a piece of software, here are a few ways to validating your idea in a fast, simple and inexpensive way before committing yourself.

1.Who has done this before?

What are the alternatives to your service, who has already solved this problem? If you live in London and want to go out on Saturday night, there are hundreds of places to choose from, from high end to cheap and cheerful. If you’re the bar owner you can’t be all things to all people, remember that you’re on a limited budget, so you need to write down what your new bar should offer or not offer, depending on who your potential customers are.

2.Who are your customers?

What are the characteristics of your desired customer, how many of them are there, who will be the 1st through your door? By ordering your potential customers by gender, age, income etc. you can better focus on your target market. If you know your best customers are likely to be females between the ages of 25 to 45, live in London and earn a monthly salary of £2,500, this can come in handy when it comes to marketing.

3.What tools do you need as a team?

This can be as simple as a creating a personal blog, describing the business in detail, your location, menu or catalogue, your unique selling points and be sure to include a contact page, which encourages feedback. Also make sure there is a signup form for people who are interested in more information prior to launch. This is a very good way to test the market and create a mailing list for later on.

4.What does the law say?

It’s very important to start your business off on the right legal footing, think of things like health and safety and employment law. Find out which rules and regulations apply to your new business. Print out the various laws and highlight relevant parts.

5.How will you test the concept quickly?

Prototyping your product or service to as many people as possible is one of the most important things you can do. On their own ideas are largely useless, but developing a prototype enables you to get feedback from the potential customers you identified in step 2.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. You could have a one page-marketing plan to list the features and benefits of your product. If it’s a website or an app a basic wire-frame will do, because let’s face it, nobody get it right the first time! Change is vital to the success of most things.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” — Thomas Edison.

Final Thoughts

By following these simple approaches to validating your idea, you can find out who your customers are and what they need or want. This reduces the guesswork so you will be more confident in making key decisions in your business

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