Put your idea to the test before you invest

IMG-20150105-00181 IMG-20141230-00151In these times when two incomes don’t always cover your monthly living expenses, more people with an entrepreneurial flair are starting new products and services and other income-generating activities.

But here’s the thing: you need to know whether there is demand for your product or service before you start investing money in it. It also not advisable to give up your day job, your main source of income, because it’s much harder to get a new product or service off the ground than most people think.

So what you do? Have you tried out something like this before? What have you found to be the best way?

Any sort of start-up needs to prove its business model. In fact, a successful entrepreneur and entrepreneurial coach said that a start-up is really a business in search of a viable, sustainable business model. It may take you one year to establish the success of your start-up or even longer. During this time you would need to perhaps change direction from your original approach as you try to seek demand for your product service in the marketplace.

Some of the ways that people starting businesses from scratch try out their product or service idea is by sharing space with other shops or retailers. Depending on the quantities you selling, you may only need a section of shelf space sing rather than putting your money into a store where you have to pay an exorbitant monthly rental cost. It’s really best if you know someone who already owns a store and can do way to deal with them, providing them with a small commission if the product sell in the store.

The worst thing that you can do is to give your stock to a retail store on consignment. What this means is that you leave your product in the store and the retailer or shop owner only pays you when they have made a sale on your product. This may sound attractive but it isn’t. Unless you are there to sell your product or have someone selling it for you, your product will just lie on their shelves gathering dust. A shop owner has too many products to pay attention to yours. Sadly, there’s also little accountability because if your products go missing or get damaged, do you think the store owner is going to reimburse you for anything?

Another way of testing your small business idea is to set up a website. The website may help you determine interest and even demand in your product or service. Zappos, the online shoe retailer, started their online shoe retailing business with a trial. They bought shoes from regular retail stores, built an online site and started trading. This gave them a good indication of demand.

Flea markets, Saturday morning markets and farmers’ markets are also platforms to test your products. In the beginning, in the early stages, it might be best to think of your product merely as a hobby before you get carried away and sink vast sums without knowing how the potential customers or market will react. Testing gives you an opportunity to find out with minimal investment and on a small scale whether you have a chart-popping new product or service or whether it’s a dead duck. You can do it all yourself or get help here.

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