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At the heart of most new businesses is a unique idea that promises to change an industry or improve the lives of a target demographic (sometimes both). But the strength of this idea can make or break the feasibility of the business. A seemingly good idea with flaws can cause the whole foundation to collapse, while a questionable idea with more merits than flaws could be abandoned despite a real chance of success.
The first line of defense to verify the feasibility of an entrepreneurial idea is research. During the business plan phase, you will do in-depth research on similar companies already on the market and take a close look at your target demographics to see if your solution is really right. But there are certain variables that the data cannot take into account and certain situations that cannot be measured objectively.
Related: To Get People to Support Your Ideas, Find the Right People First
How do you test your business idea in the absence of practical and real applications? Reflection experiences allow you to imagine your business from different critical angles, testing it well before its official launch. These five thinking experiences are perfect for assessing the strength of your idea:
1. Tear it into pieces.
Give yourself permission, no matter how much you love your idea or how perfect it may seem on the surface, to destroy it. Instead of looking for ways to justify why your idea is strong, this experiment involves looking for ways to identify why it is weak.
Start the experiment with a new preconceived notion: your idea is terrible and full of faults. Imagine yourself as a dissatisfied customer and there is a cash prize for the number of faults you can find. List them. This will help you identify weaknesses that you would not have imagined otherwise.
2. A competitor emerges.
Currently, there can only be a handful of indirect competitors for your idea in the market, or there can be a wide open landscape. In this thinking experience, your goal is to design a competing brand.
What would this brand do to differentiate itself from yours? How would this improve your original model? These questions will help you strengthen your own brand against the emergence of an inevitable competitor, and may even help you take your brand in a new direction.
Competitors will emerge no matter what, so the further you go, the better.
3. The test of the decade.
The “decade test” thinking experience is particularly important for the longevity of your business idea. The concept is to imagine life in a decade and assess the place of your business in it.
Related: 10 Start-Up Companies That Can Withstand Any Economy
Imagine, for example, that we are in 2025 and that the current trends have practically died down. Internet access is universal, autonomous cars rule the streets, drones deliver everything and virtual reality is the new mode of communication of choice.
These are speculative developments, but they help you imagine a world very different from ours today. How will your idea take shape? Is your idea timeless or does it depend on a current trend or paradigm that may expire in the next 10 years?
4. The growth curve.
The growth curve is less an experience than a giant brainstorming initiative. Here, you imagine all the different ways in which your business can develop during the first years of its development.
For example, could you set up geographically, or would it be better to set up demographically? Can you apply the product to new media or just make improvements to your original model?
Connect as many development lines as possible and determine how agile your idea is. The more flexible you can be, the better your idea will withstand changing environments.
5. The relationship test.
Finally, you will test the possible customer relationships that your brand can support. Imagine a customer delighted with your product or service. What is the best scenario? Will he come back to buy more? Will he pay more for a subscription? Will he / she tell his friends about the service?
This experience will help you assess the recurring revenue you can generate by keeping your customers satisfied. It is basically a measure of your income growth.
If you have what you think is a solid business idea, use these brainstorming experiences to test it. Don’t go easy. The more difficult and critical you are in the early stages of business development, the better you will oppose the real difficulties of owning a business when they arise.
For more information on starting a business, take my digital book, The modern entrepreneur: how to build a successful startup, from start to finish.
Related: 8 Steps to Fuel a Winning Business Idea