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Sole trader

I have a brilliant idea for an online business. How can I be sure it’s a goer?

By Michael Fox
Wednesday, 13 March 2013

This week’s Secret Soloist is answered by Shoes of Prey co-founder Michael Fox.


This is an exciting position to be in and, as you’ve identified, it’s critical to ensure you have your product and value proposition clearly defined to the point where people are willing to part with their money to buy your product.


There are two key things you should do from this point:


1. Talk to you target customer


When starting a new business, it can be very tempting to keep your idea to yourself and not tell anyone about it until the glorious unveiling at your launch event.


This carries a lot of risk, so much so that I think it’s better to share the idea with everyone you can and get their feedback, so when you launch it is with a much better product.


The reason for this is that 100 other people have probably had the same idea as you already, and the business that will succeed with the idea will be the one who executes on it best. Talking to your target customer early in the development process will help your execution.


This was our approach with Shoes of Prey. When we were still in the planning phase of the idea we talked to everyone and anyone who would listen to us about our idea, including writing about it on our blog a full six months before our launch.


The feedback we were given helped us define things like price point, our target customer, appropriate branding and how best to pitch the product on our website. This information and feedback was invaluable and with the number of things it encouraged us to change, if we waited until our launch to collect it, I’m not sure we’d even be in business today.


2. Test, test, test


The second thing to do is to test your product on your friends, family and anyone else willing to give it a go. This will provide you with even more valuable feedback, helping you to clearly define and package your value proposition before taking it to market.


Again, we did this with Shoes of Prey. Our first test was pretty primitive, we had a group of our friends and family design their shoes using a series of photos.


The testing helped give us a clearer picture of how to build our online shoe designer and also helped us clear up issues like the best way to work out a customer’s shoe size online. It’s important to find a good balance between the time it takes to test and how much this holds your launch up, but the testing step is critical.


After speaking with your target customer and then testing your product on them, you’ll have received valuable feedback on how to tweak your product offering and hopefully people will be chomping at the bit to buy it from you when you launch!


Good luck!

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