4 easy ways to validate a business idea

Some would say business ideas area a dime a dozen, and maybe they are. However, there is always room for a new - or even a slightly different take - on products, services or innovations that have the potential to serve an ever-changing global consumer market.

The real challenge though, is knowing if the idea you have is a good one. Besides, identifying potential customers, the process of validating a business idea is one of the most important steps to moving forward with a new product, invention or startup company.

It can be a challenge to evaluate the potential of an idea, and many aspiring entrepreneurs struggle with knowing how to assess or talk to people about their idea. There are though, a few simple ways to bring clarity and confidence to moving your next big business idea forward.

Here are a few easy ways to validate a business idea:

#1 Google around. Your first attempt at validating any idea must include research, and an easy way to find out about similar products or innovations is to use search engines to help. There are very few unique ideas, and often you will find comparable products and services to yours while searching online. This exploration too, is an important first step at identifying your competition.

#2 Ask friends and family for their opinion. Be sure to share your idea with the people closest to you. As potentially, your biggest critics (and future supporters) this group of people can tell you a lot about how they see your fit with the idea and share their opinions openly with you.

#3 Test your idea. Don’t be afraid to create a few prototypes and try to sell them. It is unwise to bring a product, service or innovation to market without having tested it with potential customers in different market segments. Testing sales allows you to change and customize your idea before you invest large amounts of time and money into your idea.

#4 Soundboarding. Get out there and pitch your idea. Attend events where you can share your elevator pitch with business professionals, mentors and other entrepreneurs. This process allows you to communicate your idea and get feedback quickly before you solidify your plans. It is also a great way to build confidence and get exposure.

Getting feedback, testing, engaging potential customers and pitching to others are extremely important steps to bringing your idea to the marketplace. These activities aid in shaping your products, services or innovations to best suit customers, save time and money, and give you the confidence to move forward with a winning enterprise.

So get started! To help aspiring entrepreneurs with this process, MHC is holding the first ever Start Up Company Pub Pitch Night at Crave on campus. At this public event, entrepreneurs and innovators will pitch their business ideas to a panel of local professionals and compete to win cash awards for Best Pitch and People’s Choice. Register to attend on Eventbrite and email the EDC to apply to pitch your idea.

Written by Christie Dick, Entrepreneur Specialist, MHC

The MHC Entrepreneur Development Centre helps student and alumni bring their entrepreneurship dreams to life. We offer 1-1 coaching, training, mentorship and access to a diverse network of startup funding. To connect into our network email edc@mhc.ab.ca or call 403.502.8433.

Christie Dick is an Entrepreneur Advisor at Medicine Hat College and the APEX Entrepreneurship Incubator.