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Business 101: If You Have a Good Idea for a Product or Service, Research and Test It

Have you ever had what you thought might be a good or even great idea and then decided not to work on it, only to find out sometime later someone else released a similar product or service and had huge success? Feeling like you missed out because you didn't try isn't fun.

And it's more common than you might think. If you look online you will find evidence of people suing film companies because the film company released a movie so similar to a story, or film, of their own that they felt it was stolen.

The point is that your idea may be amazing, but you will never know unless you try. Get your idea out to the rest of the world. It will take time and others might present a similar idea (which means you will have to do what you do even better) but if there's a market and you roll your product out on the market with a solid game plan, you can succeed.

Use these steps to start the process of turning your idea into a business.

Why do you think that it's a good idea/product?

  • Sit down and ask yourself, what makes your idea or product unique?  Are you adding something new to something that is already out there? Are you combining two ideas into one like QuickSilver Japan's True Wetsuit or the Suitjama? Research your idea online thoroughly. See what is out there that is similar and get an idea of who your customers could be, what the like and what they need.
  • Make a pro and con list of your product/idea. Include the amount of time you think, or know, it will take to implement.
  • Do not rush this very important step. Without important background research, your product is likely to be a failure.

How does your idea/product solve a problem?

  • Every product solves a problem of some sort.  Drive-thrus solved the problem of needing to eat on the go. Tie clips solved the problems of having to replace ties when they got worn out by tie tacks.
  • Also, is the problem you are solving one that many people have, or just a few. Ask yourself if your market is going to be big enough.

Present your idea to a focus group.

  • At this point, your focus group should be just a group of your friends, family, friends of friends, acquaintances and any experts you can muster. Offer them a small amount of money or free product for their time. If possible, pick people who might benefit from the product/idea.
  • Ask them for their honest opinions about your product. They might see shortfalls where you do not. The point of a focus group is to get lots of fresh eyes on your product/idea because you might be too close to it to see where problems might be. Encourage your friends and family to be honest with their critiques.
  • Consider their feedback and what kind of consumer they say they are.

So get out there, give it a try. Keep your costs down by doing a small rollout, take out some ads, and consider your results after 3 months and 6 months. Then consider refocusing your efforts and doing additional focus groups. Also, survey your first customers. Their honest input will be invaluable when you are first starting out.

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