I often speak with people who want to start a business but question whether their idea makes sense. Thank goodness they usually ask this early on before spending tremendous amounts of time and income on a business idea that might just end up not making sense – or income. Laxative Potato Chips anyone? 🤢

Here are some key questions to ask and to research in the early stages of your business plan development:

  1. What are the immediate and long-term growth, product and pricing trends for your business industry?
  2. Is market demand for your anticipated offerings growing, shrinking, or holding steady?
  3. Is it easy or difficult for new competitors to enter your field?
  4. How well are you prepared to adapt to industry changes you see on the horizon?
  5. Is there an untapped market that your business can take advantage of?
  6. Are there any barriers to entry with this idea?
  7. Have you identified others doing similar work? Do they appear to be thriving? Have any recently gone out of business?
  8. Typically, companies uniquely identify themselves in the following ways: Price; Quality of Service; Highly targeted customer focus; or Unique and/or attention-getting products or services. How do you plan on presenting yourself in a unique way?

Where do you find the answers?

Trade Associations: Many businesses have associations providing support and community. They also tend to be a fantastic source of information about their members and the industry overall.

Government Agencies: The Small Business Administration’s Market Research section is loaded with industry research and statistics. USA.gov also provides a wealth of business data and statistics. Both provide free resources for starting up a business.

Want to keep it simple? Search for your business topic on Amazon and through an Internet search. If you see many resources regarding, and providers of, your product or service, that indicates proof of concept. People are buying! Find the opportunities to fill the gaps.

Connect with someone already doing this work successfully: People love to share their stories and experiences and often seek opportunities to collaborate. If your business idea is location specific, find someone outside of your region to speak with.

Years ago, when I was interested in starting an upscale pet boutique in Chicago, I found a store I loved in St. Louis and approached the owner. She was wonderfully open to sharing her experiences (and her financial books) during a weekend I spent shadowing her in her store. Note: That idea had its place, just not at that time!

Look into franchise opportunities: These already show proof of concept and provide the foundational pieces that make starting a business much easier. Utilize a free local service like Frannet that has put hundreds of franchisors under the microscope and helps individuals find the perfect business that works for their needs and lifestyles.

Contact me with any questions, if you would like help validating your business idea, or if you are interested in exploring local franchise opportunities!