Lisa Laing is an e-commerce expert, strategist, founder of The Uncomplicate and has built multi-million dollar brands & juggled motherhood.
Picture this: You’ve been lying awake in bed at night, pondering the idea of launching your own product because it seems like a brilliant idea. You found it because you needed it, so chances are a million other consumers do as well. But still, even at 2 a.m., the idea of spending your savings on a business idea that might not work out doesn’t seem smart.
So, you end up parking it away in the back of your mind and think, “Well, that’s that.”
Except — it’s not. The idea just won’t go away. You find yourself daydreaming about it during business meetings and while standing in the queue at the supermarket. You wonder if the person in front of you would love your website and buy your new product. You play out in your mind the words that could sell your product. You then find yourself searching for other websites on the internet that sell something similar. You might find this and that, but pretty soon, you’re scoffing at their attempts. You know you could do a much better job.
If this sounds like you, I have something for you to consider. Instead of deciding right now that you are going to throw caution to the wind and blow your life savings, I recommend a three-step exercise:
1. Determine whether there is a market for your product.
So many hopeful entrepreneurs rush headfirst into pressing “go” on an expensive new production run before stopping to realize a core lesson here: You are not your customer.
Let that sink in for a moment.
You are not your customer. Period.
The harsh reality is that just because you think it’s a great idea, doesn’t mean that it is. The hardest part of any business is convincing other people to give you a chance.
Before you invest a single dollar into your business idea, you need to do some market research. Conduct polls and ask around to find the size of the market and gauge the appetite for your idea. What is the competition like in this space? Is it already an over-saturated market? If so, how are you going to be any different from your competitors? For example, the baby or beauty industry will give you a ton of competition. This can make it difficult to gain traction.
The long and short of it is that you need to prove there are enough people out there to buy what you want to sell — at the price point you need to sell it.
2. Identify the problems your product will solve.
This is massively important, and unfortunately, it’s also something that’s often overlooked. Understanding what might drive a customer to purchase your product is an essential component for proving your business idea has legs. No one whips out their credit card to buy something unless they have an itch or a pain point that needs solving.
Ask yourself: Who needs your product? Who truly, deeply needs it? Whose lives are you going to transform with your product? You don’t want to bring to market just another “thing” that will be forgotten and discarded. You need people to see your product and feel as though they can’t possibly live without it.
3. If all is going well, dip your toes in the water instead of jumping headfirst.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who have a whole garage full of expired or faulty products they can’t sell. Don’t be one of them. Instead of investing your whole life savings into your product idea, why not consider a small investment first?
Consider either pre-selling the idea to raise cash (so you’re not using your own) or preparing a small batch of your products to test the appetite of your target customer. You could also consider wholesaling an existing product first to build your client base and brand. This generally has a much smaller financial outlay. Whatever you do, consider avoiding making a large order that clogs up the shed for the next 10 years.
I know how easy it is to be drawn into the excitement of entrepreneurship. I don’t blame you; I’ve been there myself and see it constantly with the women I coach. However, when you’re talking about financial investment, you absolutely have to do everything you can to minimize the risk.