Out of the blue, one morning, you’re hit with a flash of genius. You’ve got an idea for a new business and you are convinced to your core it is a great business idea. After sharing the idea with family and close friends you have even greater resolve. Everyone encourages you to push forward. They tell you the idea can’t miss and they love it, too.
The good news
As you begin to think about actually starting the business, it becomes more apparent the new business will need money to get off the ground and be successful. You also realize the money will come from your bank account. Like most people, the thought of all those dollars flying out the window is troublesome. You worked hard to put it in the bank and you are reluctant to spend it. Some people might even call it a downright frightful prospect. Some will tell you to listen to your fears and forget the entire idea. The good news is, it’s normal to feel anxious.
The better news is many others have done it before you and were wildly successful. The even better news is there are things you can do to test the commercial viability of your idea before you spend any of your own money. The tests are free and easy to do. When you finish testing your idea, you’ll be in better shape for making a decision to spend your money.
How new is your invention
If it’s an invention, the first step is to make certain your idea is new. You can cut your costs substantially by doing your own patent search. Doing your own patent search can help you save thousands of dollars in attorney fees. You can do it online, from your home. The answer to many of your questions can be found at the US Patent Office website. You can do your own patent search by going to the US Patent Office website. It’s free and easy to do. You can do it online. There are many video tutorials about doing a patent search. Here is one to help you get started.
Take your time completing your search. It took me several weeks to complete my search. Go a step at a time. Keep good notes about your search results. Give yourself time between searches to reflect on the results and then search again. Keep updating your search results until you believe you have exhausted all of the possibilities. Once you’ve completed your own search you may want to consider having a search done by a professional. My patent was awarded and I did the search myself. You can, too.
The test for success
There are two ways you might test to see if your idea can be successful. You can do them before you invest any money in the business. Both are free and very easy to do.
Is someone already doing what you want to do
Every day, someone comes up with an extraordinary new way to satisfy a customer need. They are strikingly fabulous new adaptations to old solutions. Most likely, someone may be doing the thing you want to do and they have been doing it successfully. It may differ slightly from what you want to do or it might be the same thing but in a different market. Find them and you will quickly validate the fundamental part, if not your entire business model. No doubt about it, if someone is already doing it, you can do it, too.
You can also talk to them about their business. Entrepreneurs like talking about their business. The successful ones are passionate about it. Ask and they’ll tell you all about their business. If you bring a couple of doughnuts and coffee with you, they’ll share with you their keys to success. Many will even help you get moving in the right direction.
Trade Associations are loaded with valuable information
There are more than 80,000 trade associations in the United States. They are a fabulous source of free, valuable and credible business data. Many associations have a wide range of free industry specific data about:
Average sales volume
Average customer purchase amount
Average customer frequency of purchase
Average customer transaction value and amount
Generally, their role is to educate members and provide a powerful voice for regulatory governmental and industry based policy to help their membership. Many associations have state and local chapters to support members. You can find the names and contact information for a large number of industry and trade associations here. The chances are good, if there is a trade association for your business, you are on in the right road. At minimum, you’ll know the business case is credible.
Get a solid business plan to make your flash of genius a money making machine.