How to test your business idea

So – you’ve been struck by inspiration, and you have a great new idea for a business, side project, or innovation for your place of work. It can be tricky working out how to see if it has legs, without investing a lot of time and money from the outset. 

Clever Boxer co-founder Alan Rutter has worked in product development for a number of big name companies. Here are his tips for guerrilla testing.


1.

Talk to customers

This always sounds obvious – yet it’s frequently the thing that tumbles onto the back burner. There’s always a temptation to be optimistic with your new idea – of course people will love it! It’s absolute genius! It’s essential to talk to people about your idea (face-to-face wherever possible), and get their feedback – especially if it’s critical. Ask them if what you’re proposing solves a genuine problem for them, or is something so covetable that they would put down money for an advance order.. If you get a lot of shrugs and frowns, you may need to go back to the drawing board.

2.

Build a minimum

Once you’ve got enough positive feedback to be sure that there’s a set of potential customers with a genuine desire for what you’re making, then build the smallest thing you can to test demand. This is your first Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Depending on what your product or service is, this could be an online landing page that asks people for their email address to find out more about the product; a working prototype that potential customers can play with; or a version of the service that you provide manually (even if you’re planning to automate it later on).

3.

Test

Once you’ve tested demand, you can use the MVP approach to test other things. If you’re driving a lot of people to your homepage, but they’re not looking at any products, maybe you need to test different navigation and design elements. If people have signed up to your newsletter but they’re not opening it, you should look at testing different kinds of content. If people love your product, but are put off by the price, maybe you need to create a smaller version at a different price point. 

4.

Iterate

You undoubtedly will hit negative feedback. But if you’re sure that you have a set of customers, you should look at changing the product before you give up entirely. Maybe you thought you’d provide something through a bricks and mortar shop, but actually people would prefer to buy online? Could that printed publication be an email newsletter? Is it simpler for people to sign in with their Facebook details rather than set up a new account? Use what you’ve learned to create a new iteration of your product. 

5.

Repeat

The testing and iterating process should happen constantly – the more feedback, the better. There’s no point in slaving over your idea in secret for months or years, and then unveiling it only to find that nobody wants it. Digital tools give you the power to be constantly fine-tuning your offering. Criticism can be painful – but it’s the only way to get to perfection.


If you’re interested in learning more about product development for you or your business, Clever Boxer is highly experienced in delivering in-house training. Click here to find out more.