When you first come up with an idea for your business, it’s so easy to rush headlong into setting up your business, product, or service. However, when you rush into an idea, you miss one of the most important steps in the business process: Validating your idea.
Not all business ideas will be good ideas so it’s important that you validate the idea so you can assure that you’ll have the best chance of success.
So, how do you go about validating your idea? I’m glad you asked.
Validating Your Business Idea – Google Search
One of the most important steps to take is to search for your business idea in Google Search. As the largest search engine in the world, you’ll have a good idea of who else might be offering a similar solution and how you can distinguish yourself.
If you do find someone else who is offering a similar service or product to you, don’t despair. The other person has done the majority of the work for you, and all that’s left for you to do is to reverse-engineer their strategy. This will be easier than if you needed to create a brand new service or product.
You’ll want to take notice of the details of their offer. If you are offering a service, you’ll want to identify the unique elements of your competitor’s service. What makes them different from you?
- Is it a difference in your demographic?
- Is it a difference in their service?
- Is there a difference in their messaging?
You’ll also want to take note in your Google Searches of the related terms at the bottom of the page. These related terms will help you to understand how your competitors are talking about their service, as well as how your potential customers may be searching for it.
This is important because how you (as a business owner or product developer) search for your business or service can be fundamentally different from how your customers will look for it.
Validating Your Business Idea – Google Trends
Google Trends is an amazing tool for understanding how search terms are evolving. Google Trends aggregates data from Google Searches and gives you insights into seasonality of search trends and whether overall interest in a topic is increasing or decreasing over time.
Google Trends gives you the data about interest on an absolute scale of 0-100. Let me illustrate this with an example of what this means.
Every year, the Grammy Awards occur. For the week of the Grammy’s, interest in the keyword goes from very little to extreme interest (on the scale it usually goes from somewhere between 0-10 all of the way up to 100).
Here, you’ll want to take some of the keyword observations about your business or industry and start adding these terms into Google Trends. You’ll also want to note whether you are searching the keyword as a search term or as a business/brand/entity. This can impact your results.
After doing this part of the exercise, you’ll have a better understanding of how seasonality may affect your business and whether the overall interest in your service is increasing or decreasing. If it is decreasing, it’s not necessarily a reason not to pursue your topic, but it will make your job harder.
Validating Your Business Idea – Industry Publications and News
The next area to check are industry publications and news articles. There are two things that you’ll want to look for in these sources. The first thing you’ll want to look for is references to other companies who are providing the same service as you. You will want to understand what those publications celebrate or criticize about your competitors. There is no need to repeat the same mistakes, and you can save time on identifying what’s worked.
The next area you’ll want to look in industry publications is for gaps in your competitors services. What do you here news articles mention as something they don’t do, or something that they don’t do well? This would be something you would want to note for further research.
Validating Your Business Idea -Social Media
After you’ve checked industry publications, you’ll next want to research social media. First, start by checking your competitors profiles. What types of content do they post? What do they push as benefits of their products/services? What other brands do they interact with? Again, you can save a lot of time by deconstructing their strategy.
Second, you’ll want to research what your competitors audience. How do they talk about the competitors service? Are they raving fans? If so, what can you learn about what makes them raving fans. Is it the service, is it an aspect of the product, is it their customer service, or something else? You’ll also want to understand what your competitors audience doesn’t like about them. This will give your information that you can use to shape your own product or service.
Lastly, you’ll also want to research and monitor your competitors (as well as industry) hashtags. This will help you understand what content is posted on social and what gets the most audience engagement.
Validating Your Business Idea -Ask Your Friends
The last way you’ll want to validate your business idea is to talk to your friends. Speak about what your industry needs, how your idea fills a gap, and what makes you different (bonus if you have friends in the industry you are looking to start a business in). Ask them if there are any holes in your thinking, or if there are things you are overlooking. By doing this, you’ll have a better idea of how to make your idea resilient.
Additionally, you can ask co-workers or people in online forums and communities if your friends are not particularly business minded or not in the right industry. This is a good way around getting the same feedback.
By taking the time to validate your business idea, it can make you more successful when you launch your business. Additionally, you’ll be farther ahead as you’ll know what’s working and what isn’t working for your competitors.
How did you validate your business idea? What made your idea a success? Let me know in the comments below!