4 easy ways to validate your business idea before starting

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Who doesn’t love the excitement of coming up with new business ideas? We’ve all experienced the moment when we’ve come across a challenge and said: “What if I can build a product that can solve this problem by….”, right? The reality is we all have ideas, and some of them are great ones. But what is important is to validate the business idea and execute it as fast as we can before the competition.

Entrepreneurs by nature are ambitious people who don’t see problems; instead, they see ideas for building new products or improving existing ones.

I’m sure you have heard before that maybe eight or nine out of every 10 startups fail for different reasons. Sometimes, they fail due to a lack of funds, experience, poor operation, bad customer service, or market fit. These, and many more, are risk factors that you should consider minimizing before spending time and money turning your idea into a product and launching it in the market.
In this article, I will share four ways to validate your business idea and help you minimize one of the biggest risk factors in building businesses.

Validate your business idea: Business Model Canvas

Before you start validating your business idea, you should have a clear idea about what you are trying to build. Ideally, you should have your business model Canvas template filled, which is available online for free. For those who don’t know what it is, it is a set of questions that you need to answer to have a clear vision of what you are trying to build, who are you building it for and how are you going to make money from it.
However, if you have not done it yet, you will need to at least answer these three questions:

  1. What is the problem that you are trying to solve?
  2. What is the solution that you are going to build?
  3. Who is your target audience?

Ready with your answers? OK, great.
Related articles: What is a business model and how to choose the best one for your venture

4 easy ways to validate your business idea before starting

Most likely you are wondering how to validate the business idea before starting. Here are four ways to do so. Let’s start.

1. Surveys

This is the easiest, cheapest and fastest way to validate your business idea. It can be done simply by creating a Google Form, or you can use any other fancy survey tool such as Survey Monkey.

Ideally, you would want to validate the following:

  1. How painful is the problem for the customer?
  2. What are they currently doing about it?
  3. Do they think your solution is a great one?
  4. Are they willing to pay money for it?
  5. How much are they willing to pay for your solution?

But keep in mind that this kind of question can vary from one industry to another.

Make sure to do simple straightforward research on Google before coming up with your questions.

Once you have your awesome survey ready, it is time to put it into action and start collecting input from your customers. Not any customers – ONLY the ones that fit your target audience description that you have detailed with earlier.
You don’t want to ask a female customer how much you are willing to pay for a beard trim followed by a refreshing aftershave. Of course, this is an extreme example, but it highlights the importance of targeting the right audience. You don’t collect misleading or irrelevant information.
If you don’t have access to the desired target audience, you can go for a paid option. There are quite a few companies, like Pollfish, that can run a survey for you on a real audience that matches your target demographic.
You can also consider paying one of the social media influencers who have your targeted audience to create a quick poll or ask people to fill the survey for a giveaway. But in such a situation, you might need to consider collecting some extra anonymous questions from the users to be able to classify the information in a way that makes sense, such as age group, gender, marital status, etc.

Some tips to create a great survey:

  • Tell people how long the survey will take.
  • Keep surveys short and sweet.
  • Pay attention to design details.
  • Minimize the number of mandatory fields.
  • Avoid asking for information you already have.
  • Make it mobile-friendly.

Related articles: How to create a survey that delivers valuable responses in 10 easy steps

2. Google Keywords Planner

Google Keywords search is a free and powerful tool that Google gives to its Ads customers to help them write the best copy for their paid activity based on what users search for.
With Google Keywords Planner, you can see how many searches are happening on Google per month in a specific country and all the other relevant keywords as well that users are using.

Google Keywords Planner car rental

This can give you some confidence in your product if you can see that the search volume is very high for the product that you are selling.
Keep in mind that high volume is not the only success indicator. It depends on the nature of the product. If your product is a C2C product or service and your goal is to sell it to thousands or millions of users, this method will make a lot of sense for you.
But if you are trying to build a high-ticket item and your profile will come with the magnitude, not the scale, then Keywords Planner is not the tool for you.

Related articles: 10 ways to improve Google keyword ranking

3. Facebook and LinkedIn Ads

Both Facebook and LinkedIn have very powerful targeting tools when you run any ad campaigns on them. Put simply, you take your defined target audience personas and translate them into targeting filters.

You can target your audience based on their age group, gender, marital status, job title, location, interest, groups they are in and many more.

Before you create your campaign, you might need to set up a simple Coming Soon Page that describes your product for those who land on it and collect the emails of those who are interested.
Related articles: Facebook retargeting: How to retarget website visitors with Facebook Ads
All you need to do is:

  1. Create a new Facebook page or Company page on LinkedIn.
  2. Brand your page and name it as per your brand guidelines (if you have any).
  3. Create one or two nice creative media files for your campaign. If you don’t have the tools to do so, you can always get somebody from Fiverr to make some with a few dollars. You can also use Over to create professional ads, branded content, and stunning stories in minutes.
  4. Create a targeted campaign based on your customer segment.
  5. Run the campaign with the minimal budget possible for 10 days.
You can connect your Facebook page to a GoDaddy domain.

The success of your campaign here can be measured by:

  • Percentage of people who liked or commented on your ad.
  • Percentage of people who messaged you asking about the service or the product.
  • Percentage of people who clicked on your ad.
  • Percentage of people who entered their email to get notified once the product or service is ready.

If the campaign results were horrible, this is not necessarily a reflection on the strength of your idea. Try to tweak the campaign by improving your targeting or changing the creativity.
That’s it. Simple.

4. Google AdWords

Google AdWords is a powerful tool and it cannot be replaced with social media channel ads.
Why?
Because when you run ads on social media, you essentially interrupt the user in the middle of scrolling through the feed, reading an article, or watching a video, which is a bit challenging. The user might be interested in your service or product but simply not in the mood or watching a very interesting video. So, he or she could see your ad but decide not to engage.
But on Google, you are putting your service or product in front of a user who is looking for it now with their own 100% will and in the mindset to decide to buy.

Related articles: Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads: Which is right for your business? 

That’s why you might find Google ads are relatively more expensive than Facebook or LinkedIn ads in some situations.
Again, all you need to do is:

  1. Create a Google AdWords account.
  2. Write down the copy of your ads.
  3. Create a targeted campaign based on your customer segment and keywords.
  4. Run the campaign with the minimal budget possible for 10 days.

The success of your campaign here can be measured by:

  • Percentage of people who clicked on your ad.
  • Percentage of people who entered their email to get notified once the product or service is ready.

Ready to validate your business idea?

It is amazing to be full of energy and rush to build your product or offer your service to the market. Otherwise, you might lose your motivation and forget the whole idea. But it is also very important to do your due diligence and validate your idea before investing in real money, a significant amount of time, or take a big decision such as quitting your job and dedicate all your focus to it.
The more methodologies you use to test, the more confidence you will have and the less risky launching your idea will be. Before you decide that the idea is not worth the investment, validate your business idea.
I wish you all the best in turning your dream idea into a product or service that people love and use!

Image by: Medienstürmer Via Unsplash.

Sami Eltamawy is currently Chief Technology Officer at tribetactics, Technology Consultant providing CTO as a Service, Co-Founder of Pet With It, insydo and Brandripplr, xDubizzle an angel investor, and partner in multiple businesses in the UAE. Sami received his engineering degree from Cairo University and began his career in the software industry as a native android engineer. His passion to learn new technologies broadened his understanding of business and technology, which propelled his career growth. He was invited to speak in different panel discussions in some of the biggest conferences and even moderated ones. He was also invited to speak as an entrepreneur and tech expert on the TV and by some of the biggest global brands such as Volkswagen and GoDaddy. He is very passionate about technology, entrepreneurship, cybersecurity, self-development, helping others, and sharing everything I learn or experience.