Business ideas can be some of the most exciting aspects of working towards your own company and brand because you can get creative about what you want to do and what you’re good at doing. The hard part about all of these business ideas is to determine which one can work in the long run for yourself, as you build a company based on one that you think may work out best.
Before you decide to put in that effort on one idea over another, there are some questions you can ask yourself so that you can save yourself some potential heartbreak down the road as you find that the once-good idea isn’t such a good one after all.
Here are the ten questions you should ask yourself when testing business ideas:
1. Who would be my customers?
Just because you believe that the idea you have is a great one, it doesn’t mean that you’ll have tons of customers lining up for this idea of yours, whether it’s for a product or service. This is one of those areas where you’ll want to consider who your customers would be by asking yourself:
- Who would benefit from using this idea?
- Who would want to buy this from me?
- Who could see themselves using this product or service for years to come?
With each of these questions, you should be able to decipher whether your idea is made for a wide and general audience or if it’s made for a specific niche that may be too small to support the business idea altogether. Being honest with yourself and doing some research is the best way to finding your answers to these questions.
2. What makes my idea so special?
When you’re asking yourself this question, you want to answer it by finding something compelling or special about your idea that will get your customers to stop buying something they’d previously been buying and start buying your product or service. You want them to see something within your idea that is better than whatever else they could possibly find on the market.
If you can’t find a compelling reason for your idea, it may be time to find a new business idea where you’ll have better success at steering customers away from something else and to you instead.
3. Can I show this idea clearly to others?
With this question, you want to be sure you can present others your business idea either in written, draw, or physical form and that it will clearly demonstrate what they’ll be receiving from your idea. If you plan on selling a product, then you want to have some form of a prototype that shows them what makes your product so great. If it’s a service, then you want to have a written breakdown of that service, such as what details it includes, what it doesn’t, the costs for those services, and how you’ll be providing those services to others. Don’t forget to include why others should choose your service over others as part of your written breakdown.
If you can’t provide some way of showing your idea to others, then you may want to rethink your idea or trash the idea completely, coming up with a new one that can actually work for you and your capabilities.
4. Who do I need to make this idea work?
Having your own team can be one of the biggest deciding factors for any business idea and its ability to work for you and your long-term goals. You need and want people around you that will support your business idea as well as those willing to tell you if your idea is indeed a workable one or not. You’ll also find as you grow your business with this idea, you should also consider the type of positions you’ll need to keep your business running. This includes the use of IT personnel or those with accounting backgrounds. You’ll need a team that will work with you to keep your idea running or you’ll meet with failure somewhere down the line as the business may become too much for you to handle on your own.
You want to have at least a general idea of who you’ll need in your team in order to make this idea work because otherwise, you’ll find yourself stuck or lack the wherewithal to continue with your idea as your business grows or tries to get off the ground.
5. What do I need to make this idea work?
Just as you need to know the who, you also need to know the what. The resources you’ll need to make your business idea work is an important aspect because this will allow you to know the feasibility of this idea and how well it will work for you in the short-term as you gather the needed resources to the long-term, which includes the continued efforts needed to maintain those resources. Are you needing an office space for the service you want to offer or do you need a factory and/or warehouse for the product you want to sell? This question can determine the right space you need for your idea while you also build lists of other supplies and materials you’ll need to complete this idea’s product or service. You may need tons of office supplies or very little or you could need tons of craft supplies instead. Knowing what you need can be half the battle about whether you can afford this business idea or not.
While you may not have all the capital yourself, knowing what you need and building a plan around it can help you decide if this is indeed possible as you work towards this business idea.
6. What is the time-frame for purchasing this idea?
While there are some services and products that can be down within a matter of minutes, there are others that can take a while in order for the purchase to complete itself. Knowing the length of time your business idea has, can help you to decide how much money you’ll need to keep your business going as you wait for those sales to go through the correct transaction process. You don’t want to find yourself constantly short on available funds with your idea because that can put you in a vulnerable position that won’t be easy to escape should something happen to consume the rest of your available funds. On the other hand, those with quick transaction times for their ideas will find that they may not need to keep as much on hand or need to borrow as much to stay afloat as sales are being completed.
Knowing which time-frame your business idea falls under can help guide you about your willingness to take the risks involved with this idea in the first place. If you don’t like the slow turnaround for purchases, then you may want to consider a new business idea.
7. What’s the reasonable amount of sales I can make from this idea?
This is where some of us may be tempted to overestimate what our idea is really worth in the current market based on just some preliminary research or even no research at all. You don’t want to just give a rough estimate of the earning potential for your idea without considering the costs that will go into the idea as well as the capabilities you have of producing this idea to customers’ satisfaction. There are a number of factors we’ll want to consider based on the idea that’s being bandied around before we come to a close estimate of actual sales this idea is capable of producing. You should consider the cost of materials or supplies needed, the labor involved, the availability of this product to the masses, and other factors as they pertain to the idea.
When you just throw out a number that sounds great to you but isn’t based in reality, you’re setting your idea up for instant failure and yourself as well. It’s better to know what the reasonable sales amount would look like for a particular idea before committing to it, sparing yourself in the end.
8. Can I grow this business based on this idea?
Having a working knowledge of how well this idea will grow over time and the potential it has quick vs. slow growth will help you determine whether this idea is one you want to pursue. To best determine this growth potential, then you’ll want to determine what type of idea you have based on the product or service you’re wanting to offer. To better help you determine this, you’ll want to consider if this product or service can be done quickly or does it take time to complete each transaction you have with your customers. If the idea takes time, then the potential growth will also reflect that because the number of customers your idea can satisfy will take time to grow. Compared to this, a fast-selling transaction can produce great growth effects for a business idea because the quickness it can be produced means it can reach more customers faster as well, building a larger base than the slower moving one.
While it may be hard to know which one your idea falls under, it’s best to try and figure it out based on some trial and errors of your own. If you can produce a massive amount within say a given hour or if you can barely get one piece of it completed, then you probably have a good idea of where your idea stands for growth potential. Knowing this, you can then decide if you want to continue with this idea based on your own needs for that growth potential.
9. Can I make this idea work with the skills I already have?
While we would all like to believe we can tackle everything that could be possibly be needed for the production and carryout of our idea, this may not really be feasible. The reason this question is so important to your decision making process is that it should force you to be reasonable in your assumptions to handle this idea on your own or if you’ll need to find someone to help you see the idea through to the end. If your idea involves a product, do you have the ability to draw the layout for this product so that the design and layout can be copied and produced for mass consumption. If you can’t, then you’ll need someone with artistic skills to help you along the way with this idea. If you don’t know anything about computers and your idea involves them, then you’ll need someone with that type of experience.
Knowing what you’re capable of doing and what you’re not is the key to answering this question and how well your idea will work for you in the end. You don’t want to go into a business idea or venture unable to do what needs to be done because then, you’re just wasting your time and resources when they could be put elsewhere.
10. Are you willing to put time and effort into this idea to make it work?This last question is probably the ultimate question you’ll want to ask yourself as you consider one business idea or another. With any idea that you imagine, you’re going to need to devote plenty of your time and your effort to seeing it through to the end. If you’re someone who has trouble following through with things or you don’t have the right support system, you may find your idea failing within the first year or two. You need to assess where you are in your life and how well you can commit to the next few years of developing your idea into something worthwhile. If you can’t, then you may need to rethink the idea altogether or find someone who can help you with the idea to pick up the slack you’re going to produce during the idea’s beginning phase.
Knowing the answers to these ten questions can help you greatly decide if a business idea is worth your time and effort or if it’s one you should just let go. While many of us hate admitting defeat before we’ve even gotten started, it’s best to do some research and find out a few facts through these questions so we can save ourselves a lot of grief and heartache when the idea doesn’t work in the end. It can also save us a lot of time, effort, and resources from being expended for an idea that didn’t hold much water in the first place. However, these questions can also help reaffirm your belief in your idea and see it come to fruition with the greatest of success. It’s just important to ask these questions first before diving into the deep end.