Photo courtesy of Max Pixel
Having a new business idea can be exciting, but before pouring all your time and money into it you should first test it out to see what it’s like in practice. A test run will establish any improvements that may need to be made to your business model, as well as providing essential audience research and feedback that you can then use to more effectively market your business. Here are just a few ways to give your product the best trial run possible.
Build a proto-type/test service
You don’t have to produce a full working business model just yet. Testing out the fundamentals is the most important part. If you’re thinking of starting a cake shop, try renting a stall out first for a day and sell your produce from there. If you’re selling a physical product, find a prototype manufacturer such as this sheet metal fabrication business that can produce a cheap and quick prototype. If you’re producing software, create a basic alpha version for testers to use.
Start marketing early
It’s okay to start marketing your product before it actually exists. By telling people that you’re ‘coming soon’ you can build up excitement that will help when you launch your business for real. Set up a website and social media pages and invite people to check them out. You should be able to get an idea of the demand for your product by how people react.
Use your close network
Family and friends can be useful to use when testing your business. They may be able to help you run a stall at a trade fair, preventing the need to think about hiring staff just yet. They may be able to act as a first client, allowing you to test your service out on them and get feedback. They can also help to spread news of your business idea via word of mouth.
Use a focus group of strangers
When it comes to constructive feedback, friends and family may not always offer the brutally honest criticism that you need. Organising a focus group of strangers and pitching your idea to them can be a way of seeing how your business idea will really get on in the market. Positive feedback can be used to help promote your business idea, whilst negative feedback can be used to tweak your business idea and make improvements.
Don’t be too concerned about making money just yet – you’re still improving your business model. Right now you’re looking to simply test your business idea on as many people as possible, so entice them in by offering your services for free. If you’re hoping to start a restaurant, give people free tasters of your food. If you’re hoping to provide a fitness coaching service, offer people the chance of trial lessons. People are more likely to give constructive and friendly advice if you’re not asking money from them. Don’t be afraid to survey people after about how much they would pay for your service.