Testing Business Ideas: The Kickstarter Principle

If you have an idea for a business, what do you do with it? Do you sit on it and let it stew inside you? Do you plan and strategize an elaborate scheme to bring it to fruition — and what you’ll do with the proceeds?

Many people fall into one of two categories:

  1. They plan out in intricate detail what they’re going to do, how they’re going to do it. They ask themselves many important questions about the organization of the business. Should it be a LLC or incorporated. Where can they find a good lawyer and accountant? How will they raise the capital necessary to fund the business.

  2. They do nothing and just let the idea languish. Now, if I was to ask you which type of person you should be, you’d likely pick number one.
    Now, if I was to ask you which type of person you should be, you’d likely pick number one. Am I right?

Let me tell you a secret. Both of these are traps. Both are deadly to the proper execution of new ideas, and both will lead to failure more often than not.

Ideas by themselves aren’t worth the ink you waste writing them down on napkins.

Before you spend any time trying to figure out how your business idea will operate, figure out how the market feels about it. How do you do that? Easy, you ask. And not your relatives and friends. Especially not your mother. You ask people that don’t know you or don’t like you.

You get people’s real opinions on your business idea not by explaining the idea to them in intricate detail but by selling it to them. Don’t describe the features, explain the benefits. Figure out what need your business ideas fills and go after it. Ask everyone who will listen whether or not they’d like to buy some. If they say no, refine your pitch. If that doesn’t work, refine your idea. Then repeat, over and over again until you are completely satisfied that either your product won’t sell or that it will.

Either way, you’ll be ahead because you won’t have to start out your business in the red, or you won’t have wasted any money on a worthless business idea; and in this situation the ends are the same.

So, I can hear you asking, how do you sell a business idea that doesn’t exist yet? Easy. You fake it.

If someone has cash in hand and wants one of your new products or services, take the money. Then get to work and provide it. Push out your deadline. Say that you can have this when I’ve sold 50 of them, or in June of next year. If sites like Kickstarter have taught us anything, it’s that people will put up money for great ideas even if the idea don’t exist yet. On the site, users can put up money for a product that is only delivered to the supplier when the product is actually ready to ship. Put that principle to work for yourself. After all, if your customer won’t wait 3-6 months for your product to arrive, were they really that impressed with it’s ability to solve their need?

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