One of the biggest and most costly mistakes new entrepreneurs make is spending effort and money on business administration instead of getting their ideas validated.
Here are 3 tools you can use to validate your business idea for less than $50 total.
- Google Trends
- Landing Page (using Wix or Carrd)
- Domain (using Google Domains or GoDaddy)
1. Google Trends (FREE)
First go to trends.google.com and check if people are searching for your niche. Since we at Darkhorse help new businesses get started, our search term would be “start a business”. Here’s a screenshot of what we’re seeing. Read on to see what we’re looking for in the trends./
Once you’ve found some data that your search terms are being looked at, there are a few key elements on the Trends page you should pay attention to:
- Interest over time – this graph shows you the number of searches per week. In this graph, you want to see some level of consistency for your search term. It doesn’t matter if the trend is going up or down (because trends come and go), but if the line shows long periods of 0 searches, that’s an indicator that there isn’t much interest.
- Interest by subregion – this map shows you where your search terms are most popular. If you’re a local business and your region doesn’t show any interest, it could mean two things:
(1) your service isn’t in demand in this area (for example, pool cleaning services may not be popular in cold climates) or
(2) you’ll need to put extra effort into market research to test the demand for your services.
- Related topics and related queries – these are important search terms for your industry. Take note of these terms because your first few content pieces should include these search terms if you want your business to stand out online
After looking at these metrics, you’ll start to understand the type of business you want to build. Consistent trending searches show a demand for what you have to offer. At this point, you’ll want to start looking at who are your top competitors.
However, if your search terms are not showing many hits, it may be that your idea is brand new to the region (unique idea and potentially lucrative) or you’ll have to adjust the type of service you’re offering (expanding horizontally). Taking the example of pool cleaning services in cold climates, you may think about actually designing and architecting energy efficient pools (unique idea) or creating a skating rink servicing company instead (expanding horizontally).
2. Landing Page – $19 per year*
A simple landing page describing your product or services is a major part of understanding demand for your business. You can use this page to direct traffic, build an email list, and even accept payments by connecting a payment processor.
There are many solutions you can use to create your landing page and a few of them offer free trials or features before you upgrade to paid versions. However, for testing demand, the tool we suggest using is carrd.co, which offers simple 1-page websites for you to showcase your main offering. For a low price, you can get a professional landing page from hundreds of templates and just plug and play the text or images that will best explain your offering and drive conversions for your product or service directly on your page.
The benefits of building a landing page first are:
- Speed – you can have your page running in just a few minutes!
- Asset – you have an asset that you can link to from other website, social media or word of mouth!
- Performance – a single page loads fast and creates a smooth customer experience!
- Offer – you can create an offer directly on the page, whether that’s joining your email list or selling a product, service, or consultation!
A few pointers to understand when building your landing page is that it’s not a full website, so its organic search rankings will generally be quite low – this means you’ll have to spend time (and potentially some money) creating posts and advertisements on other blogs, websites or social media. Secondly, it doesn’t allow for a great deal of content, so you’ll have to keep the content sleek and powerful. There are many copywriting tools, free images and videos that you can place on the website to deliver your message. Third, you’ll have to create a powerful hook or headline to attract visitors to your site as the organic traffic will likely be minimal – look for great marketing hooks for your product or service online.
So in our view, the best process for setting this up is:
- Create the landing page using a Form template on carrd
- Generate a “Hook” using copy.ai or chatgpt
- Write sales copy using copy.ai or chatgpt
- Create a 2-3 minute video explaining your product or service
- Write your call to action (CTA) just above your Form input
* Using carrd.co you can build your own 1-page website for $19 per year (yes, per year!) – as of Feb 2023! You can also do the same with Wix.com or other website providers, which allow for more robust and professional websites but cost around $20 per month.
3. Domain – $9-20 per year
In simple terms, a domain is the name and URL of your website, the foundation that holds your web pages and content. So you’ll need to put some thought into the domain name and research its availability. It’s equally important that your business has a strong brand – one that delivers value, has a clear message and is relatable to your target audience. When selecting a domain, there are common rules of thumb that make your domain easy to find and visit.
- Keep it short – for example our domain is “darkhorses.ca” but if we chose something like “darkhorsesolutionsinc.ca”, there’s a lot of potential for mistakes and typos, making it difficult to find us online. In fact, even our domain is a bit long but we haven’t had any issues yet!
- Check the spelling – don’t use words that are difficult or confusing to spell (for example, people might mistype a website called “weirdstuff.com” as “wierdstuff.com” or “wiredstuff.com”)
- Say it out loud – make sure your website is easy to understand vocally, so don’t use names that might be unclear for your word-of-mouth clients (for example, “hirelife.com” or “higherlife.com”)
- Choose your TLD carefully – TLD is a “top level domain” or the extension after your domain name (like .com, .ca, .gov, etc.). Certain endings indicate different types of websites and some have legal requirements before you can register (for example, .ca domains must have a business address registered in Canada and approved by the CIRA, whereas .gov domains are generally reserved for government organizations).
Selecting your domain has a lot to do with branding and availability since it will be your main point of contact for all your traffic. Having a personalized domain with a sleek and professional landing page will funnel visitors to your product or service and show potential customers that you’re a reputable business.
Using these three tools, you should be able to test whether there is demand for your business idea in your market, or even find another market where your idea might work better. Remember that with digital products or services, you don’t need to be in the locale and can in fact run everything remotely!
With our Darkhorse Business Plans, we do the market research for you using some advanced paid tools and give you suggestions for how to best monetize your idea. We also create incredible dashboards using Google Analytics that help you understand key performance indicators and demographics for your market or industry.
Book a free session with us to learn some easy and free ways to start your new business idea yourself!