One of the best things you can do for the future success of your business is to start trialing it now. A successful business requires not just a strong idea, but planning and research. While understanding your costs, margins and bottom line will be important in the long term, dipping your toe into the market and testing your idea now will help shape and solidify your concept, not to mention opening your eyes to opportunities that you haven’t yet considered.
Can you trial your idea without quitting your job?
If you think you can get at least a sample version of your business started by working evenings and weekends without changing your current commitments, I’d strongly recommend that you try it.
Try it out on your friends and family
If your business is to teach or train others, then set yourself a deadline, and invite friends/family/neighbours to participate for free in your first trial. If you don’t feel comfortable telling everyone that it is part of your long term dream, then trust your instincts, and keep that to yourself. Say that it’s simply for fun and something you felt you wanted to share. Or run it to help raise money for a charity or local school.
Protect your dream
I feel very strongly that you should protect your dreams. The wrong piece of criticism at the wrong moment can devastate your confidence, and fill you with unnecessary fear and doubt. Not everyone is going to understand your dream, so be protective of it, and think carefully about who you will share it with in the early stages of planning.
Create an Etsy store. Don’t wait, do it now!
For anyone in the fashion, home ware, crafts and art fields, Etsy is a wonderful way to trial your ideas and get real customer feedback before committing yourself to making it a full time job. You can start an Etsy store in an evening, and begin testing your ideas in a global marketplace full of active and interested shoppers. You can also compare your work to similar ideas and products that are available, and get a feel for what to charge, and what is most popular.
Experiment, listen and be flexible
As discussed in our earlier post Finding the Magic Formula for Small Business, while you might have a good idea for a product or business, in reality you probably won’t achieve the best expression of this on your first attempt. For example, I didn’t hit upon my top 3 sellers (that now make up 85% of my sales) until year 5 of my business. Etsy is the perfect platform for makers and artists to trial and develop their ideas. Your own taste is not always the best guide, so be creative, flexible, and listen to what your customers are asking for.
This is the most powerful market research you can do, and you also get to flex your creative muscles and start bringing your idea to life right now.