Do you have an idea for a business and would like to make sure it’s something that would work? The money you put into starting a business can be recovered, but the immense amount of time cannot be replaced. Your idea is great, so how do you know if it’s an idea that is worthwhile and will bring a profit?
Here’s 3 free ways to test your idea:
1. Send Out Surveys
Everyone loves to be asked their opinion. You can even post the survey or results on Facebook or Google+. Sending surveys to everyone you know or posting one on your website can bring surprising results and insights.
Zoomerang is one of many free survey creation tools found online that you can put together your own personalized survey in minutes. SurveyMonkey is another popular survey tool you can try for free. When creating your survey, keep it short and ask your questions like you are talking to your friends…and then send it to them! (your friends and relatives, that is!)
To find other survey programs available online, just google “free survey programs”. Just make sure they are really free. Sometimes there are hidden fees or only the trial is free. Keep your credit cards in your wallet!
2. Contact Your Local SCORE Office
If you aren’t already familiar with SCORE, then you are missing one of the most valuable FREE resources available for entrepreneurs. Help is available to anyone online or person to person.
SCORE offers the nation’s largest network of expert business mentors at no charge to you with no strings attached. You can ask a SCORE representative about your business idea and receive advice from several experienced entrepreneurs. You’ll also find other resources on SCORE like workshops and an excellent library of information tailored for new or small businesses.
It still surprises me how many people don’t realize one of the best free business tools is only a click away. Receive counsel and opinion from experts in your field of interest. How can this full featured business resource be free? It’s a federal government program funded by your taxes! So make good use of it and tell others about it.
3. Use Google’s Keyword Tool
What is Google’s Keyword Tool? Keyword Tools are used to identify how many people are searching and what words they’re using in Google Searches. Designed to be used for advertising with Adsense, anyone with a Google account can access it.
It’s one of many free tools Google offers to help entrepreneurs online. You can use it to test an offline or “brick & mortar” idea, too. It’s an excellent way to determine the popularity of your idea. Another keyword tool that uses results from YouTube, Bing, Amazon, AppStore as well as Google is: http://keywordtool.io/
Need more help with this? Read this article from Entrepreneur.com:
So, What’s Next?
Once you know your idea is a good one, what do you do next? Experts suggest writing a business plan. This is another way to evaluate your idea. Even the simplest of business plans can help you clarify what your business goals are and if there is a way to achieve them realistically.
You can find all the info you need on writing a business plan including a free online workshop at The Small Business Administration (SBA): http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/plan/writeabusinessplan/index.html
Ask your SCORE representative to help you get started with your next step or try writing a basic business plan. If you are struggling with any part of a new or established business, there is usually someone to be found at SCORE with expertise in that area. It’s well worth your time to check it out! They could save you time and money.
The essence of Score is their volunteers. These experienced entrepreneurs donate their time and knowledge in hopes of helping others get started in their own business. I find this very inspiring. It’s a great example of the ‘pay it forward‘ concept. Hopefully, it’s something you’ll consider yourself someday!
My oldest son had a hard time believing that any organization would help a business owner completely free of charge. Technically, it’s not free. We pay for it with our taxes since it’s a government funded program. After I explained how it works with experienced entrepreneur volunteers, he said he’d also like to do that someday.
Any readers have any experience with Score? How did you validate your business idea? Any regrets?