So you have an idea for a new side hustle!
You think this could be the one and you are going to jump right into it.
Nothing is going to stop you; This is the one and you are ready to start putting up the site, spending money, and devoting your life to it.
Tear It Apart!
You love your idea and you should because you came up with it. Now is the time to tear it apart and write down every single problem with it. Hell, bring your friends!
The goal here is to really consider any and all problems that could arise when you move forward with the idea. Are you truly passionate about it? Is there competition? Is it a large cash investment? Can you make time for it? Do people want your idea? Will it make money? Will it scale?
All of these are things you need to answer and you need to be a bit brutal.
Set Up A Landing Page
Basic Landing Page (Smoke Test)
A landing page can be very basic; Look at anything made with Launch Effect. These type of landing pages can give you email collection, a viral effect if you use a contest platform, and you can start promoting inside of an hour to begin testing interest.
However this kind of a page really only works as a very simple smoke test, which is one of the easiest (and sometimes misleading) tests for interest from a potential customer base. The issue is because you are not presenting a challenge to the user, such as saying yes or any hurdles, you aren’t really validating anything other than if they have a marginal interest and can put an email into a box. Don’t get me wrong, this is a viable method. It just isn’t the best.
Maximize Validated Learning
If you haven’t heard of the lean startup then, well… stop reading this and go read it.
No really, go away! Get reading.
The idea of validated learning is to set a goal and measure how successful it is and to remember that the goal you set should be a bit higher than simply an email collection. One of the most successful companies I have seen do this was buffer! Instead of offering a reward they set the original landing page to this:
Buffer mocked up the original landing page as if a product was already released, like you could buy it that day simply by going to look at the plans and prices. Then they funneled you into an email collection page. After this stage they added yet another hurdle and introduced a page that actually had staged plans and pricing options but again lead to a simple collection page, explaining that they were still building. These tests allowed them to spend almost no money and validate the idea to a much higher degree than a simple email collection page. You will need a bit more investment in the building of the site, from visuals to copy and prices this is larger process than using Launch Effect, but not by much!
Set up your basic social accounts. Do this before you launch anything else! The fact is you want accounts on multiple networks, preferably with the same account names. I know this sounds trivial but just try. It makes it much easier for customers to find you on different social networks and pro tip, it can be quite hard to cross promote channels otherwise.
You will want to use these accounts to start checking out the area, see who might be interested in your service (and who you should follow), and start promoting and sharing great content. You will need to learn how to manage and build an account as well as learn to optimize with different services. This is a process best done early. Before the HG launch we had at least 100 followers on all accounts with IG being over 3k.
I have always explained social media with the concept of a person on a soapbox when you are walking down the street. If you see them up on the box, shouting and giving a speech with no one around them you will probably keep walking, but if that person has a crowd around them… you might stop. Social media puts you right on top of the box, sure, but you still need to build your crowd. Reach out to family and friends. Be a bit annoying because they love you and you can totally get away with it; Ask them to like and follow your accounts even if just for a short time. You want to create the idea that a crowd is listening.
Small Ad Spend
You can promote on your social channels, share on your personal channels, and even send it to everyone you know but you need to reach more people and preferably people that are objective! You need honesty and your friends may not always be the best people for this.
By using Google and Facebook ads you can reach a targeted demographic to your area or niche that could otherwise be fairly reluctant to click. This is your bread and butter. these are the potential users who don’t know you and will be a really solid validation of your work. Don’t go crazy here. a small budget is totally fine. Remember, you are just looking to test your assumptions and that can be done for under $100.00 as long as you track the traffic.
There are a ton of other things you can do to validate your business but some are more effective than others. Remember:
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. -Abraham Lincoln
Make sure you are picking the right methods for you. This isn’t just about speed; It is about speed AND testing. These are our recommendations for a balance of low cost, quick, and effective testing. You want to design the test, promote it, and validate your ideas!