Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Is Your Business Idea Good? Here's How to Find Out - Entrepreneur

Is Your Business Idea Good? Here's How to Find Out - Entrepreneur


Is Your Business Idea Good? Here's How to Find Out - Entrepreneur

Posted: 17 Oct 2019 06:00 AM PDT

Should you continue to invest in your product or service, or move on to the next?

4 min read

This story appears in the October 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Q: I've spent a year investing in a new product, but it just isn't getting anywhere. What's next? Do I just keep at it? -- Karl, Pittsburgh

In nearly 10 years of consulting, there's one question I wish more clients asked: Is my business idea a good fit for the market?

This is the first place we start when working with a client. A company has to identify core customers, understand how to engage its audience, and build a custom plan that sells the benefits of a business or a product. 

But you can't truly scale until you've found product-­market fit -- that magical match when people simply can't get enough of what you're offering. It's the Holy Grail for businesses, and often completely misunderstood. 

Recognizing product-­market fit is a superpower, and also super difficult. Just because people are buying what you're selling doesn't mean it's been achieved. Conversely, just because you haven't exploded with growth doesn't mean you're not on the right path. So how do you know when you should double down? 

Related: Bobbi Brown's Guide to Success: Go To Fewer Meetings, and Take More Action

1. Start with your  product or service.

Too many businesses try to find a soft spot in the market and then develop a product. But there's too much variability and unpredictability. Instead, have a clear idea of what product you want to create, whom you want to create it for, how it will work, and why they will care. 

If you don't know who your core consumer is and how they live, it's very hard to believe your "why" will be accurate. 

Where do you get this information? Glad you asked. 

Related: Need to Regain Your Sanity? Learn to Say No.

2. Leverage your customers.

Too many founders want to get things perfect right out the gate, and this is a massive mistake. You need to create a product and then iterate. There are many ways to do this, but your greatest tool will always be the same: analytics and insights. 

Get your product in front of people, and then listen to them. It's not enough to just ask if they like it; oversimplified answers can give you inaccurate results. Instead, go deep. Net Promoter Score is a great system to do this; it's a way to survey users (and nonusers!) to learn exactly how they think.

You need to know everything about your audience -- what they read, how they process, and what they would tell their friends. Every detail crafts a clear picture of what's working, what's not, and what gaps remain.

3Assess your market.

Once you know your product and your target audience, it's time to understand if you're in the right market. Start with three simple questions: How many users currently exist? What is the potential for new users? What are the barriers to user acquisition?

Remember that the right market isn't just one with growth potential -- it's one that you can also understand well. As you search for your fit, make adjustments to rise above the noise and become your consumer's hero. To do that, you must be able to identify which details, designs, or iterations will strike a chord and make a lasting impact.  

Related: The 8 Habits of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs

As a rule, give yourself 12 months to see if you can find product-market fit. Business is a game of survival. If you go in knowing you'll need to scratch and claw your way through it, you can put in the work and increase the likelihood that what you've created will be a success. 

Nine Ways To Make Sure Your Business Idea Isn't A Dud - Forbes

Posted: 22 Oct 2019 10:15 AM PDT

The courage necessary to take a business idea from concept to completion is something that resonates with most entrepreneurs. When just starting out, especially if you've never started a business before, it can be difficult to know if your idea is really worth pursuing. Some plans, no matter how good they sound, just aren't feasible in the real world. Conversely, some ideas may not seem grand at first, but are amazingly successful when introduced to the market.

So how does an entrepreneur separate the ideas that have promise from the duds? These nine Young Entrepreneur Council members managed to successfully take their plans from the concept stage to the completion stage. Here, they share insights into how they chose their ideas, how they figured out the ideas were feasible and what their fellow entrepreneurs can do to implement their own ideas into real-world measurable success.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Play To Your Strengths

After working in financing for some time, I knew there was a better way to get businesses the funding they needed. Instead of forcing them to jump through hoops, we could offer nontraditional products in a less painful process. In 2008, the demand for business funding skyrocketed and I knew this was a niche that needed more attention. If you're good at something and there's a demand, go all in! - Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

2. Find A Way To Monetize Your Passion

My passion has always been commerce and technology, so I created a business that would combine and monetize both. Luckily, I started my first e-commerce site before it became popular. Because I was on the cusp of the beginning of the e-commerce boom, I had the confidence to jump in and try different business models. My takeaway: find a way to monetize your passion and never give up! - Shu Saito, Godai

3. Create What You Need

Lots of successful businesses started in an attempt to solve a particular problem for that founder. For me, I needed a proper tool that helped me manage remote tools, so my co-founder and I created Hubstaff. As remote work grows, the need for tools like Hubstaff grows. My advice to you would be that your concept should come from a personal pain point. - Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff

4. Focus On Solving Other People's Problems

I related to my problem personally and, through research, realized I wasn't alone. This gap in the market motivated me to meet a need in the most important areas of sleepwear: comfort, confidence and functionality. I'm proud to say that our brand is the culmination of customer orientation and relentless problem solving—a lesson I think all business leaders can use in any company they're building. - Ashley Merrill, Lunya

5. Look For Underserved Niches

After years in the infrastructure hosting industry, it became clear to me that there was a demand for a lower cost alternative that offered premium levels of quality and service. As technology evolved, the business model stagnated. Established businesses are conservative. They change more slowly than the world around them. A leader who spots the mismatch can build a successful business. - Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.

6. Leverage Current Events

We got the idea for our business a decade ago when the country was mired in a recession. We knew that the general American public was going to need help with their finances; therefore, we thought the time was right to launch our small business—a personal finance website. There are times when you can leverage current events going on in the country to launch a business that could be successful. - Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

7. Draw Inspiration From Real-World Experience

The idea for my business came to me as I was finishing up my education to become a CPA. I remembered how difficult it was for me to find the right study materials and actually pass my exams, so I tried to think of what I would have wanted in order to make that process easier. The important takeaway here is that the most successful business ideas require inspiration from real-world experiences. - Bryce Welker, The Big 4 Accounting Firms

8. Test Your Idea Against The Hedgehog Concept

I realized that it made sense for me to start my business because my idea fell within the three circles of the famous Hedgehog Concept, introduced by Stanford professor Jim Collins. The three circles are: what you are deeply passionate about, what you can be the best in the world at and what drives your economic engine. Any aspiring entrepreneur needs to test their idea against this concept. - Amine Rahal, Little Dragon Media

9. Be Controversial With Integrity

I have acne and shared my journey on YouTube. I showed vulnerability to my followers and gained a following. They trusted my opinion so much that when I created my own products and noticed a big difference on my skin, they encouraged me to sell my products. A leader should have something controversial (story, product, ideas) to offer—it could be an unpopular but distinct message to convey that he or she would like to share to motivate their audience. - Daisy Jing, Banish

Seven 'Litmus Tests' To See Whether Your Business Idea Is Viable - Forbes

Posted: 21 Oct 2019 10:15 AM PDT

With such a huge potential customer base, major cities naturally become hubs for startups and small businesses. While it's easier than ever to launch a business or project, it's often hard to know whether yours will flourish—especially with so many competitors in the same market.

Before you start your company or offer a new product, it's important to test the waters and get a better sense of how you might fare. That's why we asked a panel of Forbes Business Council members to share one way an aspiring business owner can determine if their idea is likely to succeed. Here are their recommendations for some "litmus tests" that entrepreneurs can use:

Photos courtesy of the individual members

1. Understand Daily Life In Your Market

A key to having a successful business in a particular market is to know that market. When my co-founder and I started our company in LA eight years ago, we not only lived here, but we were active participants in all elements of life here. You must understand the people. You need to do life in your market—go out at night, go to different events around town, go to brunch, go to the gym, etc. - Alessandra ContiMatchmakers In The City

2. Quantify Your Validation Goals

Idea validation is an absolute necessity. Try to quantify your validation goals—for example, see how many pre-orders of a product you can muster, or run a giveaway for your new product or service. If you can't get people to sign up for a chance to win it for free, chances are slim that they'll pay for it. - Kim KohatsuCharles Ave Marketing

3. Spend Time On Market Research

Perform proper due diligence and market research on your intended target customer. Subsequently, run initial proof-of-concept testing and execution of the plan to determine initial traction. - David CreanObjective Capital Partners, LLC

4. Get Feedback From Trusted Sources

In a market where there are thousands of new business ideas weekly, it's not only imperative to conduct market research, but it is also important to share your ideas with trustworthy sources, such as a mentor. Market research will only go so far, especially if your idea is incredibly out of the box. Running your idea past insightful connections will help navigate the road to success. - Brittany Harrer DolinThe Pocketbook Agency

5. Share Your Story And Make Sure People Understand It

I talked to hundreds of people at conferences, on the phone and in one-on-one meetings. I shared our story, defined the opportunity and listened intently for subtle feedback cues. Did people understand what we do? Were their reactions positive or negative? Did we discuss opportunities after that initial conversation? I paid attention to the language that stuck and struck the rest. - Robert BrillBrillMedia.co

6. Make Sure You Have The Time And Drive To Keep Going

Without the time and drive, even the best ideas will fail. You have to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself two things. First, do you have the time to commit? Hint: It almost always takes more than you expect. Second, are you willing to see this through the good times and the bad? Hint: Success isn't a straight path. You need passion to get you through the rough patches. - Eden GillottGillott Communications LLC

7. Experiment And Adjust

Market research, asking customers and measuring market demand is important. However, asking people if you would pay for something and having them actually pay for it are two different things. Experiment on a small scale, then learn and adjust. - Sid MohassebVenture Farm

Have the next great idea for Eugene food scene? Bring it to Startup Weekend - The Register-Guard

Posted: 21 Oct 2019 12:00 AM PDT

This year, the pitch-to-prototype 54-hour business incubator in November is focused on building businesses in the food sector

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the start date of this event, which is Nov. 8.

Locals with a business idea to make food healthier, fresher, smarter, tastier, more earth-friendly or just more financially viable can put those ideas to the test during a weekend-long event in Eugene early next month.

Another yearly startup weekend begins Nov. 8, but this time the pitch-to-prototype 54-hour business incubator is focused entirely on building businesses in the food and food services sector. Anyone with an idea for a revolutionary business is invited to participate.

A startup weekend brings aspiring entrepreneurs together and matches them with successful local business owners and coaches to bring their ideas to life over the course of the program. Some ideas may go on to grow into thriving businesses, others might just fizzle out.

"The specific outcome is less important than what you gain by just going through the process," said lead organizer Micah Elconin, founder of local food and beverage organization Eugene's Table. "Everyone who participates will come away with more connections, a better and more confident entrepreneurial mindset and some inspiration to keep exploring their ideas, which is invaluable."

Startup weekends have spread across the world from the initial 2007 event in Boulder, Colorado. They generally invite entrepreneurs of all stripes to pitch ideas of businesses at their outset, but Elconin said Eugene's fifth event is taking a unique focus on food businesses.

"Food and beverage is part of our DNA in Eugene," Elconin said. "This is one of the birth places of the natural food movement. The area is home to some of the biggest food brands in the world and also some of the most progressive food systems organizations in the world."

Elconin said some participants may arrive with ideas for new foods or drinks, but the event is broad enough to welcome any idea in the world of food systems, such as supply chain innovations, distribution technologies or even yield-increasing agricultural equipment.

"We might find there are a lot of technology-based solutions for the food industry come out of it, and it's quite possible ideas will come out of it that are more mission based," Elconin said. "The weekend is about helping people work on ideas that support a sustainable, robust, profitable food system."

The startup weekend will begin at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 8 where participants can pitch their business ideas to the group. Participants then will break into teams — made up of business people, designers, developers and others — to tackle the ideas that most interest them.

Teams workshop their ideas with local experts over the course of the weekend, working around the clock to fast track their ideas leading up to a showcase Sunday night. Work sessions will be broken up with talks from local business leaders and experts. Prizes will be awarded to some of the most popular business plans, but they haven't yet been announced.

The Eugene Food Startup Weekend will be held at the Barrow at Hummingbird Wholesale, 120 Shelton McMurphey Blvd. The cost to participate is $95.

Register and learn more at bit.ly/sweugenefood.

Follow Adam Duvernay on Twitter @DuvernayOR or email aduvernay@registerguard.com.

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