You have a brilliant idea.
You have an inspirational story to tell.
You have a revolutionary product that will “disrupt’ the market.
You know the one.
The middle of the night, knock you out of your dreams inspiration that will propel you to notoriety.
But here’s the rub, not every idea should be followed through. For the most part we act impulsively. That’s why we have an endless stream of fads and trends. So that idea might be nothing more than a fad. In our lifetimes, each of us will have thousands of “inspired ideas”. Does it mean we follow through on all of them?
Most of them should go to the grave with us and thankfully most of them will do.
But you can try out some of the ideas before committing time, money (that you don’t have) and emotions to something you will stop being passionate about in a few weeks. So what can you do to avoid this?
Undertake market research.
It will save you a lot of tears.
This solution works for three circumstances:
If you are doing it for educational purposes.
To demonstrate to potential funders that your idea is workable.
To measure the response of prospective audience.
Why We Don’t Do Market Research?
There are many ideas that die not as a result of being bad but because to elect the easy way out.
This is a necessary step before we begin and yet most of us put it in the backburner until it’s too late.
There are a number of reasons:
- We fear that it’s expensive. Market research seems to be an expensive exercise that only big corporations can do.
- We fear rejection
- We fear that we are out of time and we have to catch up to our competitors before the pie runs out.
- We assume that the uniqueness of our idea/product/solution will carry the day.
- Market research places a level of responsibility we are unwilling to carry.
Why It Should be A Priority
Before you burn your ships, you need some preparation. Although plans don’t survive initial contact with reality. It’s better to have a plan that you can tinker with than wading into muddy waters with a vague hope that it will work out.
It works because:
- It allows you to be relevant. An idea is just an idea and unless it answers a market need it remains an assumptions. Assumptions don’t make money. Market research gives you a better picture about the assumptions you hold.
- It allows you do develop a better business plan. In order to have a workable business plan you need to have the right data. This can only be done after market research.
- Prospective customer feedback is essential. When you know you customer you are able to improve and craft a better product offering. When you show the market that you care about what they care about you are already ahead of the curve.
- It allows you to have a better understanding of your competitors and gives you a better chance as you will be better primed to offer the customers a unique selling proposition even if there are already dominant players in the market.
- It gives you the flexibility to jettison ideas without making a commitment that will cost you emotional and financial trauma when it doesn’t work out. It’s better to be rejected at the beginning and to amend your offering or to do away with it completely and focus on something worthwhile.
- It cures the illusion that success can only be achieved by having a unique idea. Most ideas are not revolutionary or disruptive but they are well executed.
So what are you options?
Of course you’ve many options;
You can find a job and save up. Hopefully.
In the meantime, file away your idea(s).
Then burn your ships and pray that everything works out.
This option means that you put the little resources you have saved or somehow managed to scavenge together into your idea. Use reliable hosts like Bluehost to register under an affordable hosting plan (it comes with a free domain). If you have money I would use this option. Also use a little bit more to get a professional template that you can use. Then you are set to give your prospects what you think they want.
This might set you back US$150 a minimal cost if you consider how much it would take you to set-up a mortar and brick company and the hassle of bureaucratic red tape that tends to hinder entrepreneurship endeavor than aid it.
But since the focus is on people who are on the edge but want a chance that option is out of reach.
There’s nothing wrong with getting a job, if you can find one, but what do you do when that door seems forever shut.
Do you give up and wait to die?
The second option.
Is to find people who will allow you to setup shop on their platforms. These are a dime a dozen.
Some have a free startup plan but should you desire to upgrade they will charge depending on the services you desire.
You can setup your business on platforms like
Social Media: Facebook
Blogging: WordPress, Medium
Ecommerce sites: Amazon
There are many people who have been catapulted into celebrity status by turning their hobbies and part time gigs into high paying entrepreneurial pursuits.
But what if you had a third option?
It’s unorthodox but it will help you overcome the financial hurdle that you’ve been struggling with. It will enable you test your idea and get the necessary feedback that you need.
The risky part is that free stuff whilst enticing doesn’t really do well in the long term. So this is a short term solution that will help you test your idea and hopefully give you the data you need so you can plan better and find backers for your business.
So you can use this for market research, anything beyond that you have to tread carefully..
I’m going to introduce a number of tools that I’m using to do market research.
I have been burned before (a partner and I once invested over US$10000 on a project. It was naïve. Things didn’t work out as we expected)
You don’t have to be a cautionary tale. I have done the heavy lifting for you on that score.
Here are the tools I’m using:
- Infinity Free
So let’s take a look at the tools:
First up is XAMPP.
According to Wikipedia, XAMPP is a free and open source cross platform webserver solution that was developed by Apache Friends. It allows you to work on your website offline. So you don’t have to worry about the cost off accessing internet and it availability.
You can us content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Joomla so it will be a handy tool.
XAMPP stands for Cross-Platform (X), Apache (A), MariaDB (M), PHP (P) and Perl (P)
You can download it here: XAMMP
You can find a good article about the setup process here: XAMPP Tutorial.
If you aren’t into reading here a link to a video tutorial: XAMMP Video
Freenom is the world’s first and only free domain provider,” according to their About Us page.
It allows you to register top level domains (TLD) with the extension .tk (Tolaku), .ml (Mali), .ga (Gabon) and .cf (Central African Republic).
There are huge concern with these extensions because they have been used by spammers and other people with bad intentions. But don’t stress about it too much. You aren’t in search of the spotlight at the moment.
Keep in mind that this isn’t the final version of the domain name you’ll use.
So as soon as you have tested out your idea you are advised to register a safer domain extension for around US$10 a year.
Then you can safely beginning sharing your offering.
You can register here: Freenom
WordPress is an open source content management system that is easy to use.
I’m always using it for all of my projects. It works well with XAMPP. Its multiple features make it convenient those who are at the start of their journey.
There are free themes and plugins that you can use to create a good website. Premium themes are available at a cost you. You can also create your own custom themes if you have the skills.
Visit WordPress: WordPress
If you don’t have coding skills. Then the free version of Elementor will enable you to put up a good looking site. Elementor also provides an answer to web design costs.
However, in future it would be wise to have someone with the technical skills because if your idea gets traction and traffic spikes you will need more than a website builder to keep everything together.
Elementor home: Elementor
- Infinity Free
Infinity Free is decent. You can’t really complain about something that’s free. It will allow you to host your site(s) and at the moment that’s what’s important.
If you want professional hosting services you can try BlueHost or any other service provider in your country.
They also have a site builder that you can use. I haven’t tested it but it’s something you can consider.
Find InfinityFree here: InfiinityFree
The email marketing software will help you build an email list that will enable you to connect with your audience.
You can use this to measure the level of engagement and assess the needs of your potential subscribers. The above should give you a good footing for you to conduct a market research campaign.
MailChimp Website: MailChimp.
If you desire to have a more aesthetically appealing website you can use the following:
These design tools will help you create stunning images that you can use on your website as blog images, site headers, eBook covers and a multitude other things.
Also you can find some awesome images here:
The images are free to use on commercial projects without attribution but always check and give the attribution even when not required.
I would advise you to band with other people so that you won’t get overwhelmed with the amount of work you’ll need to do.
Of course, you can do it on your own but that takes time and too much energy.
When you select people look for individuals who are committed to succeeding as much as you are.
Also there are many people and companies that provide helpful resources and advice. If you’re willing to learn then you have a better chance of making it.
Find people that you can observe and learn from. I read blogs and listen to podcasts from the following individuals:
There is a lot that you can learn from others. You can reverse engineer their online enterprises and use the knowledge as part of you market research.
The countries they come from might differ but there are principles that are universal and that’s the important aspect you should focus on.
The methods outline above are unorthodox so exercise caution and understand that this is a temporary solution that allows you to gather data to help you decide if your idea is worth pursuing.
It’s not for use on the final product, service or platform.
I’m just showing you that most times we don’t have an excuse for trying out our ideas and it does have to cost you US$10000 before you find out that you’re ill-equipped to implement a project.
You have plenty of time to learn.
Always backup your work in case the free hosting companies disappear overnight (highly likely) or they change their terms of service.
Don’t waste time mourning about the lack of opportunities for young people in your country. There’s no ship coming in. Build a raft and learn to sail.
Governments are not great problem solvers, its small businesses and entrepreneurs who create solutions.
Give this alternative some thought.
If you think it’s viable in the short term, take action and setup a temporary home online.
This will put you within touching distance of your dreams. It’s also a great way to learn.
But it’s up to you.
You can wait until all your ducks are in a nice row or you can take control of your destiny.
You don’t have to ask for permission.