Entering the world of start-ups can be a daunting proposition. You can spend countless hours drafting up your business idea, fully believing that it’s going to be the next thing to take the world by storm. Yet, many fail for the simple reason of not targeting their product idea correctly. Entrepreneurs tend to not look at their product with an objective mind, and that really is the first hurdle to get over.

Taking into consideration the actual relevance your product will have in a particular market will give you a more realistic picture of what you can achieve with it. So, upon that necessary understanding, here are seven ways to test your product to make sure it’s worth pursuing further.

1. Actually understanding your product

So, you’ve got your million dollar idea. That’s terrific, but here is the first thing you need to do: forget about the million dollars. For the time being at least. That is the very first pitfall so many young entrepreneurs fall into: money clouds the mind. The first thing you need to do is to fully understand your product: its strengths, the niche it fits into, the allure of it and, crucially, its weaknesses. Sit down and don’t leave until you’ve got all this down on paper: this may seem obvious, but it is staggering to see how many businesses fail due to a lack of simply doing the basics right. By fully understanding your product in terms of what it may actually be able to offer people, you can begin to evaluate the market you want to target. Be completely sure on this before you move on.

2. Understanding your target market

This doesn’t mean we are going to market the product yet: that’s still some way off. The purpose of this section is that when the time comes where you have to unexpectedly pitch to someone (something we shall get on to later), you’ll have the knowledge to eloquently describe your full intentions. This starts with understanding who your target audience are. You should already have a basic idea of who this, but by researching into it more thoroughly you will begin to develop a more clear understanding of the desires and requirements in that market: which hopefully your product will fill. This will also inform you of the brands they trust, what websites they frequently visit, and what they generally look out for in new products. As a result of this, you can begin to learn more about who your potential rivals will be.

3. Researching your rivals, identifying the gaps

With so many people continuously inventing new and exciting products, the chances of yours being completely unique are quite slim. If that is the case, the best thing you can do is to seriously research said competitor, and the brand who makes it. By doing this you can identify the weaknesses that particular product has, which will then help to inform you on how to improve your own, and go on to plug that area in the market.

A great example…

Let’s look at the battle of social media. Before Facebook there were other websites such as MySpace, Firefly, and Friendster, among others. What Facebook did was take the concept of being able to share content and media online amongst your friends and expand upon it to what it is today by letting the market itself decide its direction, exactly the opposite of what MySpace did which was to hire the News Corporation to guide it. The point is that Facebook had the exact same concept as MySpace, but improved upon it by identifying the needs of the market: in this case, letting the market decide what they want; MySpace didn’t. This principle applies to any business or product: identify your rivals, research them and their products if they’re similar to yours, locate potential gaps in the market by, for example, reading user and critic reviews, and improve your own accordingly. A great tool to use in finding competitors is SEMrush: this allows you to loosely gauge the quality of a particular website by showing a variety of search and paid metrics.

4. Testing the waters

This is where you will find out if your product is truly worth continuing with. Through networking at events related to your chosen product, you can begin to gauge the actual worth of the product via industry experts. This stage is actually two-fold, as not only can you see what other people think of your idea, you also have the potential to build a prospective client list. That is an entirely different ball game, however, and if you wish to learn more about connecting with people at events then check out our article on just that.

5. Compile a survey

So, by this point, we have the opinions of industry professionals on your product, and they think it’s a winner. You’ve outlined ways you can improve your product by exploiting gaps in the market through researching your rival’s weaknesses, and you have clearly identified said market because you understand your product’s value and place within it. Now it’s time to find out what the public think, and a survey is a sure-fire way to test your product, and find out. A great example to use is Google Consumer Surveys. It allows you to choose your target audience, describe your product and get fast results (it takes just a couple of hours). The reach is absolutely massive, so it’s well worth checking it out. You can also research market trends through it, which will further inform you of what the public are currently keen on.

6. Concept development

Upon receiving the responses from the survey, you now have a full analysis of what people want from the product you have in mind. From here, you can begin to develop your product further in relation to the feedback. We’re talking about addressing negative responses, awareness of further complimenting products, estimations on value and prices, and all the ins and outs. Further information on these types of questions can be found in our help centre.

7. Prototype test run

You’re now ready for the prototype test run. This is not the full release of the product by any means. This is to iron out any final drawbacks by releasing the product to the public. Think of it as beta-type release you get with computer programs. In other words, this means that your product will be sent out to a small group of people (for instance, people you know), who will try it out, and give you feedback accordingly. You will then take this into account and improve your product, and repeat the cycle if need be before you have your complete release.

A little trick…

A great piece of advice when doing this is to create a landing page on the internet about your product. Now, this is not to be confused with a homepage. A landing page has one specific goal, and that is to sell the product. As we’re in the prototype stage, that’s all we need at the moment. There are no distractions on a landing page, such as adverts. This gives you the perfect platform to advertise the product, work out a winning formula for that purpose, and to get people interested in the product. You can also create landing pages with a focus on individual keywords that will help your organic search results, which will increase the traffic to your page when people search for a product like yours. Finally, when this is set up and you sell the product to people, it is well worth the time to also chase the customers up for a testimonial: customer reviews reassure a potential buyer.

So there you have it!

Following this structure will hopefully give you the ideal platform to kick off your business. Just remember the most positive thing you can do is to continuously research the market, and take advantage of the tools available to you on the internet to help you do that.