At the root of most new businesses is a single idea that promises to either change an industry or make life better for a target demographic (sometimes both). But the strength of that idea can make or break the feasibility of the business.
A seemingly good idea with flaws can cause the entire foundation to collapse, while a questionable idea with more merits than faults might be abandoned despite having a real shot at success.
The first line of defense in verifying the feasibility of an entrepreneurial idea is research. During the business-plan phase, you’ll exhaustively research similar businesses already on the market and closely examine your target demographics to see if your solution is truly a good fit.
But there are some variables that data can’t account for, and some situations that can’t be objectively measured.
How do you test your entrepreneurial idea in the absence of practical, real-life applications? Thought experiments allow you to imagine your business from different critical angles, probing it for any weaknesses well in advance of its official launch.
These five thought experiments are perfect for evaluating the strength of your idea:
1. Rip it to pieces
Give yourself permission, no matter how much you love your idea or how perfect it might seem on the surface, to destroy it. Instead of looking for ways to justify why your idea is strong, this experiment is all about looking for ways to identify why it’s weak.
Begin the experiment with a new preconceived notion: Your idea is terrible, and full of flaws. Imagine yourself in the role of a dissatisfied customer, and that there’s a cash prize for the number of flaws you can find. List them.
This will help you identify weaknesses you may not have otherwise imagined existing.
2. A competitor emerges
Currently, there may be only a handful of indirect competitors for your idea on the market, or there may be a wide-open landscape. In this thought experiment, your goal is to design a competing brand.
What would this brand do to differentiate itself from yours? How would it improve upon your original model?
These questions will help you fortify your own brand against the emergence of an inevitable competitor, and may even help you take your brand in a new direction.
Competitors are going to emerge no matter what, so the further ahead you can think about the possibilities, the better.
3. The decade test
The “decade test” thought experiment is an especially important one for the longevity of your business idea. The concept is to imagine life a decade from now, and evaluate your business’s place in it.
For example, let’s imagine it’s 2025 and today’s trends have all but died away. Internet access is universal, self-driving cars rule the streets, drones are delivering everything and virtual reality is the new communication mode of choice.
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These are speculative developments, but they help you imagine a very different world from ours today. How will your idea stand up? Is your idea timeless, or does it depend on a current trend or paradigm that might expire within the next 10 years?
4. The growth chart
The growth chart is less of an experiment and more of a giant brainstorming initiative.
Here, you’ll imagine all the different ways your business will be able to grow over the first few years of its development.
For example, could you branch out geographically, or would it be better to branch out demographically? Can you apply the product to a new medium, or simply make improvements to your original model?
Branch out as many of these possible development lines as possible, and determine how agile your idea really is. The more flexible you can be, the better your idea will hold up to changing environments.
5. The relationship test
Finally, you’ll test the possible customer relationships your brand will be able to support. Imagine a customer who’s thrilled with your product or service.
- What’s the best-case scenario?
- Will he/she come back to purchase more?
- Will he/she pay more for a subscription?
- Will he/she tell his/her friends about the service?
This experiment will help you evaluate how much recurring revenue you’ll be able to generate by keeping your customers happy. Essentially, it’s a measure of how much your revenue can grow.
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If you’ve got what you feel is a strong business idea, use these thought experiments to put it to the test. Don’t go easy.
The harder and more critical you are at the earliest stages of business development, the better you’ll stand against the real hardships of business ownership when they come.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
6 Steps To Building A Million-Dollar Ecommerce Site In 60 Days
Jared Goetz spent only 30 minutes a day and built a colossal Shopify sales machine.
Jared Goetz, serial entrepreneur and member of The Oracles, always had a knack for reaching an audience. At 26 years old, he’s co-founded four multimillion-dollar companies.
Whether he’s throwing the world’s largest foam party with fire breathers and circus acts (“Electric Flurry”) or selling inflatables to college students via viral campaigns (“Dumbo Lounge Sacks”), this serial entrepreneur knows how to turn an audience into a profit machine.
His latest venture, The Gadget Snob, is no different. An ecommerce store that supplies everything from jet-flamed pencils to laser keyboards, Goetz took his business from zero to $2 million in 60 days by plugging into the right audience. That’s no small feat in a competitive industry forecast to surpass $4 trillion in sales by 2020.
Goetz’s secret sauce to reaching the masses? Experimentation. As he explains, “You don’t know what people will respond to until you try a lot of things. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.”
Goetz shares six key components to building his million-dollar ecommerce store and turning profits in less than a business quarter.
1. Don’t reinvent the merchandise wheel
“Many owners think they have to reinvent the wheel with the merchandise they sell,” Goetz explained. Instead, he suggests focusing on products with a proven track record of success. “An easy way to spot a market trend is gauging how a product performs on social media. If an item is getting 10,000 Facebook Likes in less than a few hours, that’s a tell.”
When choosing merchandise, it’s also crucial to differentiate between commoditised and unique products. Commoditised products are widely available. Unique products are less accessible handmade or niche products that aren’t mass produced.
“If you go niche, gauge demand first. Observe what people are looking for. You might be surprised to see what’s selling.”
2. Create a formula, then rewrite it
Ecommerce comes down to a formula, Goetz says, and the outcome is affected by different variables: Product, advertisement, landing page optimisation, and customer lifetime value.
“Once you figure out what produces the best margin, copy that. Most who fail in ecommerce are 90 percent there but haven’t worked out all the variables in their formula,” Goetz shares.
For Goetz, a pivotal variable was drop shipping. “I spent a lot of time bootstrapping my earlier companies. Drop shipping was a game-changer because it allowed me to advertise before securing the inventory, yielding greater outcomes.”
3. Build a legit Shopify store
A successful Shopify store must win confidence. “In the sometimes-fraudulent digital ecosystem, you have to earn a consumer’s trust,” Goetz says. “A money-back guarantee and free shipping guarantee are great places to start.”
Goetz also suggests choosing a theme that’s congruent with your industry. “With branding, you want to look professional, not spammy or creepy.” Gadgets are fun and technical, so his site has bright colours and precise language. “If I were running a men’s fashion store or toy store, I’d change my theme to match the merchandise and brand. Branding is key to converting customer views into sales.”
4. Find winning ads with huge ROI and scale
For Goetz, marketing comes down to one word: testing. “The only way to find out what works is to test it many times,” he says. “Test 10 audiences on each product, so you know where to invest your energy.” For The Gadget Snob, Goetz hired an ad manager to optimise Facebook campaigns. “When you strike gold with a successful ad, replicate it, but scale incrementally to ensure you’re staying targeted.” He suggests increasing ad spend 20 percent per day, not 500 percent.
When building campaigns, it’s also vital to use language that’s shareable and creative. Sales psychology is your friend. From his perspective, classic scarcity techniques have been around for centuries for a reason. “Try incorporating a quantity incentive: if you buy one, it’s full price; if you buy two, it’s 50 percent off and so forth.”
“Creating an email list is also vital. Email campaigns have a higher conversion rate than cold Facebook campaigns, and you can incentivise email campaigns with rewards. You can make money by merely pushing ‘send.’”
5. Hire a VA, then specialists
For Goetz, hiring a virtual assistant was essential to scaling. “At first, my VA helped with everything,” he says. Once his site got off the ground, Goetz hired people with specialised jobs for specific tasks.
He also stresses the importance of universal procedures. “Having clear onboarding processes and procedures is key to growth. Make your systems as easy as possible because while you might have 100 orders today, tomorrow you’ll have quadruple that.”
6. Get your customer support airtight
For a store to operate at full throttle, Goetz stresses the importance of customer support to maximise your profits. “You need your customer support to be airtight and available 24/7,” he says. “Online shopping goes all night and people place orders at all hours.”
To support questions and concerns, Goetz says that live chat and around-the-clock customer service is a must. “In our era of Amazon Prime, customer service expectations have never been higher, he says. “The last thing you want is a minute hiccup or technical goof obstructing a sale.”
Ultimately, ecommerce allows entrepreneurs to reach untapped markets and reap the rewards. As Goetz puts it: “My ecommerce site affords me ultimate freedom.” By following a few basic steps, you, too, can build a Shopify store to run from anywhere in the world, and perhaps even create your own million-dollar sales machine.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
10 Businesses You Can Start Part-Time
Find your perfect match for a successful part-time start-up.
Start your part-time business today
- Public Relations
- Freelance Photography
- Corporate Videos
- Small Business Advertising Agency
- Writing, Editing and Proofreading Services
- Internet Marketing Consultant
- Web Design
- Tax Accountant
- Business Consultant
- Business Plan Consultant
Launching a company – even if it’s operated part-time – is all about drawing on your skills, talents and interests to create a viable business. What you know and what you’re good at form a good basis for a part-time business because these companies either become an extension of what you enjoy doing most or they are based on your strengths.
Working part-time while still maintaining a permanent job is time consuming and often exhausting, so choosing what you take pleasure in or are good at can keep you focused and motivated. The right fit is important when it comes to launching a part-time business. Selling a service rather than a product does not require large start-up costs, which means you can grow your business without financing until it becomes self-sustaining.
Are you looking for a business that you can launch in next to no time?
Corporate Communications & Promotions
Corporate communications covers a host of areas, mainly because this is the sector that takes care of how companies look to the outside world – something that is very definitely a service, but also that is not often taken care of in-house.
If you can write, edit, have a knack for advertising, can take photographs or create promotional and corporate videos, you can offer your services part-time to companies both large and small that are in need of these services.
10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!
Where do you find a good business idea? Right here. Here you’ll find several innovative business ideas that are ripe for plucking.
Where do you find a brilliant business idea?
It’s not as hard as it may seem at first. In fact, the idea is arguably not all that important. There’s a reason investors talk about backing the jockey and not the horse: It’s often not about the idea, but the execution.
A great entrepreneur can turn even a mediocre idea into a success; all that’s needed is a USP and great customer service.
That said, some ideas are undoubtedly better than others. And some businesses are easier to get off the ground. In the following pages you’ll find a curated list of business ideas that have reached a point where they’re just waiting to be exploited.
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