A solid idea is at the core of every successful startup. It’s usually so simple and elegant that you wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of good business ideas. You only need to look in the right places and use the right evaluation tools.
Read on for the lowdown, plus a simple guide on how to test your idea’s validity without writing any code.
What’s a Good Startup Idea?
Let’s set the record straight. There’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” startup idea.
There are only those that satisfy a market need and those that don’t. So, your idea is worth pursuing if it solves a problem for a specific group of people while eventually turning a profit.
But to qualify as a high-growth startup, your idea needs to have the potential to become:
- Repeatable: You should be able to sell your product or service to all your intended customers without modifying it every time you make a sale.
- Scalable: As your number of customers increases, your resource requirements shouldn’t grow as much.
- Highly Profitable: The most successful companies have substantial profit margins. You may need capital at first but eventually, aim to reach 30 percent net profits.
Where to Find Startup Ideas
Your idea must be something you’re passionate about. Building a business is no piece of cake. You’ll have many hard days before you see a beacon of hope. So, make sure you find an idea that excites you.
With that said, here are a few ways to generate new ideas.
Look into the Future
Market trends are a great source of inspiration. Look at what’s happening now and try to predict how the situation will be in five to ten years.
For example, if the population in your area is aging, soon demand for medical and care services will explode. On the other hand, pregnancy care will be the next wave if marriage statistics are on the rise.
Read market trend reports from various industries and connect the dots. How are customer expectations shifting? What’s the next wave of technology? Can you identify unmet needs that’ll grow in the future?
Do it Better
You may have used an application or a website and wished it had some features. That could be your million-dollar idea.
Take Apple, for example. The company didn’t invent smartphones; they just executed the idea better than everyone else. Instagram is another example. The social media giant didn’t do it for the first time; it just did everything better.
So when you have an idea and see a company is already doing it, don’t give up. Think about the ways you can improve their service. Identify their shortcomings and overcome them.
If you can’t find the problems yourself, ask a friend or family member. They can provide you with feedback.
Make it About You
Many of the best inventions we use today came to be because someone had a problem once.
Take a look at your own life. What kinds of difficulties do you face? If you have a challenge, many others may have it, too.
Love the Problem, Not Your Solution
Sometimes, an idea occurs to you in the form of a solution. You say to yourself: if I build a product that does X, people will pay me to use it.
But in reality, people will pay you to solve a problem for them. Your job is to figure out that problem and then develop a decent solution. So answer three questions:
- What problem does the customer have?
- Who has the problem?
- Why do they have this problem?
Writing down your answers will give you a problem statement.
Then dig deeper. Go beyond people’s regular complaints about price and speed. And find out what really motivates them to buy.
How to Validate Your Idea
So you’ve decided on an idea. What next?
Now is the time to look for a market. Or look to see if one exists. This is called the idea validation process, and it’s a critical part of starting a startup. Your objective is to make sure people are likely to buy your product BEFORE you commit time and money.
It’s simple. These days, the first thing we do when we have a question is googling. Search the same topics and see the existing solutions.
You can get a rough estimate of your market size based on the number of people who search for the problem you aim to solve. All you need is a keyword research tool and a spreadsheet.
Start with a few key phrases your customers may use to express their problem and dig deep into the user’s search intent. Also, take note of search volumes, but don’t get excited about large numbers. They usually mean you haven’t narrowed down your audience enough.
You might also discover that other companies have taken a stab at the problem. Find out if they succeeded. If so, explore their methods and see how they got started.
Talk to Your Potential Users
The first people that come to mind are our friends or relatives. But they’re probably not the best candidates as they’re close to you and may want to spare your feelings. Plus, they may not be ideal customers for your idea.
Forums are an excellent option. Users usually share their thoughts in detail on websites like Quora.
Feedback websites like User testing allow you to recruit interviewees by paying a small fee. You can specify what kind of person you’re looking for, and the platform will connect you to them for 30 or 60-minute interviews.
Know Your Competitors
Don’t be afraid of competition because it means you’ve tapped into a valuable market. If you find a way to deliver more value to your customers, your chance of success will be higher than your competitors.
A search on Google Play or Apple Store is often a good place to start. Download their product, use it, and write down your comments. Then think about how you can make the user’s job easier, more enjoyable, or more affordable.
Do Things That Don’t Scale
The strongest validation signal you can get is revenue. So, if you’re convinced that there’s a market for your idea, devise a plan to find your first ten customers.
Since you’re starting so small, you don’t need a sophisticated app or automation tools. Serve your customers manually and use free tools to develop your MVP. You may not even need to hire anyone at this stage.
Once you have your first ten customers, determine what you need to do to reach 100 and then 1000. You can consider creating a custom app and hiring employees as you grow.
How to Test Your Idea With a Landing Page
The best way to see if people are willing to buy a product is to put it in front of them and observe them in action.
But you don’t have to build your product to test its commercial potential. You only need a landing page that claims to sell your product. And your test subjects (who are potential customers) are none the wiser.
Now, don’t panic if you don’t have the technical knowledge to build it. Tools like Lead Pages, Webflow, and Squarespace let you design landing pages and collect data without any coding.
Here are the essential components of your landing page:
Headings and Subheadings
Your heading attracts the user’s attention, while your subheadings provide concise explanations of the solution to their problems.
Aim for clarity. You’re often too close to the problem and understand it deeply. But your users don’t necessarily have that ability. Show your copy to a few people outside your team and check their understanding. Make tweaks until your text conveys the right information at the first impression.
Headings aren’t enough on their own. You need to use a hero image to showcase the results and make the solution tangible.
Although you may use pictures throughout your page, a hero image is directly related to your idea. It’s the first thing visitors see and keeps them on your page.
Call to Action
Users should show their interest by taking action.
You can display the price and have a buy button next to it. When users click on the button, they’ll be directed to a wait-list.
Use Google Forms and ask them to enter their email for later contact. Don’t forget to send them a confirmation email.
Promote Your Landing Page
Now it’s time to drive traffic to your landing page and gauge interest. Your friends and relatives can be a great help here. Ask them to promote it on their social media accounts.
You can also run paid ads, but you’ll have to set aside a few hundred or even a thousand dollars to get meaningful traffic.
Evaluate the Results
Your landing page platform gives you analytics and insights into your user behavior. Analyze that information to spot positive signals indicating interest in your product. You can start with your conversion rate and move to more nuanced metrics.
Keep at It
If your results aren’t promising, don’t give up. You should constantly ask your users for their feedback. The initial idea may be sound, but there might be an issue with how you developed it.
By improving the flaws in your prototype, you might see improvements in your results.
If you receive positive market feedback, you can move to the next stage and start attracting your first customers.