Many of you are reading this are looking to start a side business. Your parents told you it’s a great idea. Your girlfriend told you that you can make it. Therefore, your business is going to make it, right? Um… Not sure.
I read more books than I should on entrepreneurship and I’m always exchanging emails with readers and friends online about the idea of branching off on your own. There’s one common fear everywhere you look. It’s the fear of living in a van down by the river. It’s the fear of not making any money. It’s the fear of failing and looking like a joke in front of all of your friends.
Instead of being afraid you need to put your business ideas to the test. This goes beyond getting the opinion of your drinking buddies and parents. I’m not here to be a cheerleader or to throw out feel good quotes. I want to get practical. You need to start testing your ideas to see if you can make money.
How can you start testing your new business ideas right now?
First test is Google Keyword Tool.
Google’s keyword tool will tell you right off the bat if anyone cares about your idea. You can play around with different keywords to see how people search for the terms on a local and global basis. I’ve spent many hours playing around with various keywords to see what the popularity is like. Whatever idea is on your mind you should try to punch in all the possible keywords to see how many people are searching through Google for results.
Look at the competition.
What’s the competition like? You can use Market Samurai to track the competition in a very sophisticated manner. You can also simply type in the main keywords in Google to see what ranks the highest. If you want to start your own insurance website or fitness blog, then good luck to you. These might be popular topics, but the competition is intense and working your way to the top of Google will be either impossible or really expensive. A part of analyzing the competition involves being realistic to see if you stand a chance against the others in the same field.
When looking at the competition it also helps to see what offers are offering. If you feel that you can offer a unique angle or do things exponentially better than you might be on to something. If you find that nobody cares about your topic, you might have to move on. You know the saying, “if you’re going to fail, then fail fast.” The sooner you get off a sinking ship, the better it is for you mentally and financially. Just watch the Dragon’s Den or Shark’s Tank if you don’t believe me.
Find paying clients.
I always knew that I wanted to write about money management. I just never knew how I would do it. I started reaching out to personal finance bloggers, just so I can tell myself I did, but I wasn’t really expecting a response. Then something really out-of-this-world happened. Personal finance bloggers that I looked up to started replying and helping me out. The whole community was very kind to me. I had no choice but to embrace this opportunity and start my own personal finance blog where I would help my new found readers manage their money much better. Once I started writing on a consistent basis, I found that other bloggers were willing to pay me to write articles for their blogs. Sweet! Finding paying clients is the best test to see if your business idea has any legs to stand on.
You can create the slickest Twitter page, put together a cool looking business card, or go to a million “networking events,” but none of this will matter until you find someone willing to pay you for your new business idea.
Instead of stressing about how you will make money on the side, take action by putting your ideas to the test. You may find that you’re on to something. On the other hand it may open your eyes to realize that you need to try something different. Taking action beats daydreaming always.
Have you tried testing out any new ideas lately? What were the results like?
(photo credit: koalazymonkey)