Too often, I see our sistahs seeking the traditional method of business startup: get an idea, write a business plan, get funding, launch the business, and get ready for the bumpy drive and possible crash. Sounds pessimistic, but I’ve got some encouraging words of wisdom for the aspiring sistahpreneurs that might increase your chances of avoiding a crash landing.
Validate your business idea. This means test it before you spend tons of cash, before you secure funding, and before you you write a 25-page business plan that will be outdated before you print it. Here are some important elements of your business model to validate and test.
Make sure people not only like your idea, but are also willing to pay for it. It’s not enough to just ask someone to taste your secret soul food recipe for Jamaican Oxtails. Set up shop and see who buys it at a fair. Launch a landing page and ask people to sign up for holiday orders by request. Play with pricing and see how much people are willing to pay. It’s important to do low or no-cost testing like these popular businesses did. This way if the idea is a flop, or you need to change course, you will avoid losing a ton of money and other resources.
Test the way you deliver your product or service. Customers might love your product or service, but may experience great inconvenience or hassle because of how you deliver or fulfill the order. If you skip this step, you might toss the idea thinking there is no demand, when in fact had you created an online delivery option, or an on-demand service for delivery, your sales might increase.
Validate Your Brand and Messages
So how you brand and message your product could propel or destroy your ability to make sales. Are you articulating value? Are you communicating a compelling brand promise? Does your visual brand resonate with the ideal customer? The brand is the gateway to the customer experience and your first impression. Make sure you get it right. Test it. Split-test it. Compare results. Then you can use the one that works best with the full-scale promotion.
Validate Physical Products
If you have physical products – hair products, cleaning products or other widgets that you sell — setting up pop-up shops, working at fairs or during holiday seasons is a great way to serve clients and validate your idea without significant or more committed investments in dollars, time, and staff.
Validate Soft Services
If you have soft services, like bookkeeping or credit repair services, create a squeeze page before building a whole website. If you’re a coach, take pre-registrations for a pre-dated coaching webinar or mini e-course to see who signs up.
Now if you’re setting up a proven business idea, with a market that has been proven and where all elements of your model have been tried and tested, this may not be as critical. An example of this may be a successful franchise opportunity. If you’ve got a brand-new idea, or even a new spin on any part of your business model – test it on a small scale first! Google your product thoroughly and find out if it exists. Learn to enjoy the art of improvement cycles in business – it is indeed a key element in the formula for building a profitable business.
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