Testing Your Online Business Ideas

Ensure your ideas will succeed before diving in.

by Dennis L. Prince
- May 10, 2013

You have great new online business ideas you're convinced will bring unmitigated success. It's a stroke of genius to be sure!

Now, before you jump headlong into erecting your new empire, take the time to be sure that everyone else will be just as giddy about your ideas as are you.

Remember that genius is still 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. You need to determine if you're truly up to the task of bringing your ideas from concept to completion and—more importantly—if they will truly pay off just as you imagine they will.

Here are a few ways to add some objectivity to your excitement, helping you be as certain as possible your ideas will work before you invest mightily into them.

Have you identified a solid market need?

Most entrepreneurs are driven by the excitement of having identified sure-fire, can't-miss business ideas. It's a moment of supreme passion, fueled by ambition but usually built on a tank load of assumptions.

Talk about your ideas to as many people as possible. It's free to talk, and you'll probably gain some telling insight

Those assumptions, however, will likely bear out to reveal if your ideas are true gold or fool's gold. Too often, the untold riches are reliant upon the participation of unidentified customers. The first step, then, is to categorically and unequivocally define the market and need for your ideas.

Before investing massive amounts of time, money and desire into an idea, remember this eternal truth: Talk is cheap.

By that we mean, use your gift of gab to talk about your ideas to as many people as possible. It's free to talk, and you'll probably gain some telling insight about whether your online business ideas are on track to coax wallets out of pockets and purses. You needn't divulge the critical details of your ideas such that they are carried off by someone else. Rather, discuss them with enough clarity to decide if they're the sorts of things that could really sell.

Chances are you'll learn that your ideas need some refining or refocusing to properly set them up for success. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs will learn that their ideas aren't so breakthrough, yet will learn of a related opportunity that is more prone to pay off.

Alternately, they might discover they have good ideas, yet will learn more about customers' buying patterns, biases and motives through discussion. It's not uncommon to approach someone about ideas you have only to hear them tell you, "Yes, that would be nice, but what I really need is this."

When they start talking this way, start listening as you've never listened before.

Is it what the market wants or what you want?

Be attentive to the feedback you receive to determine if you can improve upon your ideas and make them appealing to an even wider audience

With your online business ideas becoming better tuned upon your conversations with others, you now need to determine if the ideas you're pursuing are what the market really needs or whether they're something you really want to achieve. The two are not always mutually supportive.

Here, you have to become supremely objective. Even if, in your heart of hearts, you want your ideas to succeed, you have to remain open to the feedback you receive that might tell you the ideas are questionable.

What? Give up on an idea just because others can't appreciate its magnificence? While it's true that many business successes comes from unyielding persistence, many more failures come from failing to open one's eyes and ears to the reality around them.

Take solace. This doesn't mean you need to give up on ideas you're passionate about just because others fail to embrace them as enthusiastically as do you. There are times you need to stick to your guns and march ahead, despite the naysayers.

Even so, be attentive to the feedback you receive to determine if you can improve upon your ideas, make them more desirable to a target market and, better yet, amend them to become appealing to an even wider audience.

Remember, you're still in the formulation phase. This is when making changes to your ideas and approaches is cheapest—before you've actually invested heavily into them. Follow your heart and pursue your passion, yes, but listen to others along the way and you'll avoid an esoteric and eccentric pursuit that satisfies only you. That could be a bad idea.

Can you really do it?

But let's say you've clarified your online business ideas and the feedback you're receiving is incredibly supportive and uplifting. Great! The next question: Can you deliver?

Business history is full of great ideas presented by clever and charismatic entrepreneurs that brought no results. The problem might not have been their resolve, but, rather, resources—or the lack thereof.

Entrepreneurship is more of a marathon event than a short sprint. Be sure you have the stamina and fortitude to see it through

Before you make lofty promises and other commitments, be certain you can see it through to the end. This often implies financial backing, whether by your own personal assets or by way of investment from others. Beyond funding, though, is the matter of skills. Do you have the abilities to bring your online business ideas to fruition or do you need to collaborate with others?

If you can't do it all yourself, be sure you've identified the shortfalls in your skills and have gained commitment from those who can fill those critical gaps for you. This could involve contracting work or hiring on long-term employees. Be sure you can financially support that. If the ideas are great, but you can't muster the resources you need to make them a reality, it might be a bad idea for the time being.

Will you commit to success, no matter what?

Finally, this is where you test your commitment to your online business ideas. If you've clarified them to satisfy a market opportunity and have the resources to take them from concept to completion, now it all comes down to you.

Launching an idea is not for the faint of heart. Just ask anyone who has succeeded in the endeavor as well as all those who didn't. Determine how long it will take to make your ideas a reality and if you can adjust to that timetable, especially if it would need to be altered and possibly extended.

Entrepreneurship is more of a marathon event than a short sprint. Be sure you have the stamina and fortitude to see it through. If you're convinced you do and have passed the other tests of your online business ideas, then what are you waiting for? Go for it and best of success to you.

About the Author

Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay…and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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