Whether it’s a simple notion or a complex system, every business has an idea behind it. But not all ideas are equally viable for starting a business. Here are a few suggestions for evaluating your business idea. If you don’t have a business idea, not to worry. There are ways to come up with one:
Finding a business idea if you don’t have one yet.
You can consider what you’re good at and see how that matches marketplace needs. For example, if you have a talent for building or repair work, you may want to consider opening a handyman or construction-related business.
The most sure-fire idea for starting a business is to look for a challenge in your life that you share with others, and go about finding a solution for it.
Conducting market research on your business idea.
If you want your business to be a success, you need to know the market. You’ll want to know whether there’s an appetite for what you’ll be offering, whether the market is saturated, what your competition is doing, and whether you can reach your intended customers.
The U.S. Small Business Administration advises that you’ll also want to know the market size for your product, and what people are willing to pay for similar goods and services. All of that takes research. The SBA is a good place to start. Its SizeUp tool is a quick way to compare your intended business with similar ones in your market. The SBA also provides help through its local offices and resource network, and provides an extensive list of links to government data and information that can give you insight into the market, economy, workforce and other factors. Brad Sugars, founder of business coaching firm ActionCOACH, points out that trade associations, local chambers of commerce, and universities can provide valuable market research information and insight for starting your business.
Getting feedback on business services or products.
Sugars suggests convening informal focus groups of friends and family to help vet your ideas. There are more formal methods as well. According to the SBA, you can use surveys, questionnaires, focus groups and in-depth interviews to get feedback. There are some solid tools out there to do just these things. Google offers a free form you can use for customer feedback, as well as a pay service, Google Surveys, for a more in-depth option. Survey Monkey, which touts itself as the world’s number one online survey company, also offers a range of plans for conducting online surveys.