Five ways to test your business idea for free

With so many resources ready to welcome you with open arms, there’s nothing to stop you turning your great idea into a successful business...

But how can you test your ideas for free and determine if it has the potential to become a successful brand? If you’re on a tight budget, you don’t want to waste cash, right?

It’s a question on many an entrepreneur’s mind and sadly I don’t have a one size fits all solution. But what I do have is five steps you should apply to your idea without spending a penny. They could answer all your questions and potentially make all your dreams a reality.

1. Share your idea friends and family

One stumbling block when sharing an idea is people are scared that someone will steal it. Firstly, don’t be afraid. It’s your idea, it’s unique to you and you’ll have the passion to make it a success. First stop for advice? Ah of course; friends and family.

The feedback you get may be one-sided for obvious reasons but initial thoughts will give you confidence and give you more of an idea whether it’s worthwhile to take it up a gear. But what’s the point in just telling them about it? Test your product or service on them, get their feedback and get back to the drawing board.

2. Get your idea out in the public

Now you’ve made the initial leap of sharing your idea and testing it on loved ones, you should consider trialing your product or service to strangers - but on a lower level. It’s essential to get direct customer feedback and determine what products will be used. Customers will be brutally honest so you’ll know quickly whether or not your idea is a good one. 

Make the most of your current contacts too! If you’re on Facebook, you could create a survey using SurveyMonkey.com to get initial feedback and share it with all your friends. One share could make all the difference and provide you with insights and advice you’ve been craving. 

3. Get a website

Creating your website goes hand in hand with creating your business. It brings together branding, sales and personality in a way that should make your idea look fantastic to every browser. Wordpress is full of free templates to take your business to the next level. 

When you’re out and about telling strangers about your business idea, pointing them towards your website will allow you to be more experimental. Oh and stay on top of your page views so you know how many people are visiting your website and what pages they’re specifically looking at. 

4. Build a mailing list

Once you have a website, it’s time to use it to build your audience. Wufoo lets you add customised sign up forms to any page. They are instantly changeable and you can collect whatever information you need to know about your viewers. It’s the perfect way to start building a connection with your fans, completely free of charge. 

On the form, inform your potential customers what they’ll receive by signing up. Most people don’t appreciate regular sales emails so promise something that’ll leave them licking their lips. You’ve an exciting business idea that they want to find out more about, don’t waste an opportunity to test this by luring them in with great content!

5. Engage with your audience

Feedback? Check. Website? Check. Mailing list? Check. Now it’s time to follow up all the good feedback and potential by creating fun, engaging and beautiful emails. Even better, you can do this all for free with MailChimp. 

Its interface is simple and it lets you build the tons of email campaigns. It even includes advanced functionality like A/B testing that sends out the same email with different subjects lines to small portions of your audience, before sending the one with the best open rate to everyone else. Useful, right?

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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