So how do you know if your idea for a small business will fly? Research, research, research. A SmartMoney.com article points out a few tips on how to get started. It’s easy to laugh about seemingly wacky ideas – until you lose your life’s savings trying to launch your own. Even if your concept isn’t especially farfetched, it might not be as great as you think, either.
“If you’ve got a lousy idea on your hands, who’s more likely to tell it to you straight than your family? (Siblings in particular can be a reliable source for brutally honest criticism.) Start by bouncing your concept off those closest to you, including trusted friends. When talking to anyone – be it Cousin Al or your best friend from childhood – be sure to ask if he or she knows anyone who can help you, either by offering advice or providing start-up funding.
Next, talk to people in the industry you’re targeting. Be careful, of course, but don’t be paralyzed with fears that these people will steal your idea, says Peri Pakroo, author of “The Small Business Start-Up Kit.” Most of the time your business idea isn’t as novel as you think it is, and other entrepreneurs – particularly those in businesses similar to the one you’d like to start – can offer valuable information about the buying habits and concerns of customers in your area.
You might also want take your business idea to a chapter office of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives. The program, which is supported by the Small Business Administration and several major corporations, has 389 chapter offices around the country. At each chapter office, you can schedule a free interview with a member, who can either offer general business advice or direct you to a veteran in your particular field.