CHLOE ADLINGTON

BRAND & WEBSITE DESIGN FOR CREATIVE, SMALL BUSINESSES

How to test out your small business ideas

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Welcome back to part 2 of 'what business should I start?'! Today's post is focused on narrowing down the business ideas you generated in part 1 HERE. I've put together 10 questions to ask yourself as you think through each potential business idea and to ultimately help you decide on the right business for you to start...

1. Would you do it even if you weren't getting paid for it?

The reality is you probably will have to put in at least a good few months of work to your business idea before you start generating an income from it. This is a good question to gage how excited or how much you really love your business idea?!

2. Does your idea fill a void, solve a problem or make a positive difference to people's lives?

Be honest with yourself, is there a need or a want for your product or service idea? Of course we hope so but you need to be sure that your business will be creating something that is missing or will make peoples lives better. Be clear on what results people will experience after buying from you, for example will you help them to save time, achieve their goals or make something easier for them?

3. Will it be profitable enough for you over time?

I know the maths can be scary but do a few simple sums to make sure people will be willing to pay the prices you intend to charge and that you can make enough profit over time to make your business sustainable. How many of your products or services do you need to sell in a year to survive and is that realistic?

4. What do you need to get started?

How much time and money do you need to get your business set up? Do some research into the start up costs to make sure they are acceptable for you and that you can realistically give it the time it needs. Check whether you need special insurance, certifications, equipment etc and don't forget the cost of your branding and website set up!

5. If it wasn't your idea and a stranger asked you about it, would you invest money into it?

It's easy to get carried away in the excitement and potential of a business idea so this is a good testing question to consider! If you would invest a good chunk of money in your idea then great! If not why? If you can try to develop a sentence or two business pitch to sum up your idea and why people should buy it.

6. What will a typical day look like?

It's important to think through the practicalities of what running your business will actually be like on a daily basis. Not just in the exciting initial stages but what about in 5 years time? For example if you dream of becoming a wedding planner are you ok with spending every weekend away working? If you know anyone currently working in your chosen area give them a call and do some digging!

7. Is there a simple way you can test your product or service out?

Offering a free taster, doing a test run or a mock-up can really help you assess your idea. For example if you want to set up a bakery you could hire a stall at a local food or craft fayre to sell your cakes for a day and see how they are received by customers? This will help you overcome the fear factor, gain valuable feedback and see if people are prepared to pay for your product or service!

8. How well does your idea make use of your strengths, skills, experience and passions?

Write a list of your strengths then give your business idea a score out of 10 for how well it uses them. If your business idea isn't a good fit it may take a lot more research and time to learn the ins and outs so it's good to be honest about this upfront. Think about ways you could improve your score or if you scored highly consider ways to make it more fun.

9. Who are your ideal customers and where will you find them?

Can you list 10 specific places your ideal customers or clients hang out? You need to be really clear on who they are, what frustrations they have and how you can sell to them to get started. Whilst you're developing your business go and make friends in the places you've just listed.

10. What will make your business different?

No matter what your idea is there's bound to be competition in your market. Rather than thinking 'is there room for another business like mine', get really clear on why people would buy from you and not your competitors? How can you put your own personality into your business and make it unique?

A little bonus tip that I do is to make myself take some time to think about my business ideas in depth. If I'm still really excited about it 8-12 weeks later then I know I'm on to something!

I hope you find these questions helpful, did they help you to narrow down your ideas? 

Chloe x