How to Know if a Business Idea Will Work
You can't. But wait, there's much more to say than just that. Come on, if life was that straightforward, we'd probably be some kind of invertebrate with no capability of abstract thought, much less any entrepreneurial ability.
Let's put it this way. We could bore you with business plan best practices or market research but wouldn't you rather be entertained while receiving some relevant, useful information? Besides, there's too much to say in regards to business plans and marketing research. We recommend looking at this SBA business plan guide, or maybe this course at Coursera in your spare time. First, let's get our heads in the right place. Entrepreneurship isn't all about following the rules and letting data guide you 100% of the time. It's about you, about your dreams and about inspiration.
One fact you need to remember is that not everyone will understand. No matter how great your business idea is, there will be critics and there will be people who just don't get it. What you need to remember is that you need to lead them by example. You must not have any inhibitions. In other words, be confident and energetically promote your business. Be like this dancing guy:
(Seriously though, watch the video. It's kind of inspiring.)
Video: TED Conferences, LLC and Derek Sivers
"The Perfect Product/Service" is Relative
Know that your idea probably isn't the craziest one that has actually been successful. It's true that many, many businesses fail but it's also true that many we never expected to work have been successful for many years and/or have produced a sizeable profit for the entrepreneurs. These are some examples.
From there, it just gets weirder. Clearly, just about anything can be sold if you take the right angle.
Don't drop your idea for a new novelty thing after reading the previous section. Yes, uniqueness is a wonderful benefit a product or service can have. However, it's not the only thing that is important.
Take Dinner in The Sky as an example of a business that offers something very not unique, but does it in a unique, new way. The company serves dinner on a table that is lifted a hundred or so feet into the sky by crane.
Obviously, this provides a unique experience but you dont have to be this unique to make a difference. Slight differentiations work as well. If your idea is a restaurant, try unique decor ora unique location. If you want to sell t-shirts, try a new design element that people notice. If you want to provide a service, do it in a suit or something (assuming it's not a service that everyone does in suits). Put something different on the menu, literally or figuratively, and you'll gain an advantage.
Don't Be Last in Line Unless You Really Know What's Going On
We just told you that you can do anything you want as long as you do it differently and we believe it's a good tip. However, you'll need more differentiation if your business is entering a market where 4,000 other businesses are offering a similar product or service.
If you're Michael Jordan and you're offering basketball lessons, that's enough differentiation already. That can't really be imitated. When Joe Schmo offers basketball lessons, he better be serving excess demand or he better be doing it in a way other basketball coaches can't do it.
Don't Give Up
Let's take the Joe Schmo example, above. It's conceivable that his unique angle on basketball lessons might not work. Therefore, we admit that being different has limited benefits. He might also be competing with an endless list of coaches and trainers. You may find yourself in a space where your passion is already well-served in the market by competitors as well. Don't let that get you down, though. Move somewhere else, where your service will be in demand. Offer your product through a channel where nobody else offers it. Look at different demographics that may not be aware of or have access to the service or product. There's bound to be an opportunity if you want to make it happen!
At isoTree, we help businesses find their markets using targeted PPC advertising. If you want to learn more about that, we'd like to hear from you. Get in touch.