Thinking of starting a business? Great. But don’t invest a single dollar or an hour of time into building your business until you validate your idea.

Validating your idea – or getting 3 paying customers – will reduce of risk of starting your business.

Validate your idea before you

  • build a website
  • get business cards
  • get an LLC
  • hire
  • quit your day job

This weekend I came up a fun idea to test. But instead of letting that idea die in my moleskin journal, I’m documenting this idea on ebookmuse. I will have 3 paying customers in 3 days (Wednesday, July 16) or I’ll kill this idea and move on. If I do get 3 paying customers in 72 hours, I’ll move on to the very next step required to get my next 3 paying customers.

So what’s the business idea? Marine Safety Subscription.

If you’ve got a boat, you’ve got to have these safety products on board:

  1. A fire extinguisher
  2. Signal flares

They each expire every 2 years.  So that means running out to the store (if I remember) every 2 years. I’d like to have this mailed to me so I don’t have to worry about remembering. And so I won’t get a $300 ticket from the Man for not being prepared.

How I will validate this business idea

Goal: 3 paying customers by Wednesday

I first need to find out if other boaters are interested in this. Then I’ll ask for them to sign up.

So I’m reaching for the low-hanging fruit to get my 1st 3 customers. I’ll ask my dear old dad and 2 boater friends of mine. If you’re asking, “Why are you asking friends and family? That’s too easy.” Then consider these 2 things: I’m not asking if they like the idea. I’m asking them to pay for it. And second, if I can’t get them to buy, how the hell am I going to get a stranger to buy?

This is step 1. And it’s okay to start small.

The details:

I’ll find out how much it costs to buy the flares and fire extinguisher at retail. I’ll add that price to the shipping cost to get my price. (I’ll make a profit by buying at wholesale prices.)

I’ll call my friends and dad to find out how/when they order. I’ll ask questions to see if this is a problem worth solving.

Then I’ll ask for them to purchase. “Just send $35 via paypal and tell me when your equipment expires to sign up.” That’s how I’ll ask…

When they do sign up, I’ll just order the stuff online for them. (I won’t make a profit until I set up my drop-shipping and wholesale buying.)

What I won’t do:

I don’t want to lose focus on worrying about anything else other than getting my first 3 customers. So I’m not going to

  • Do competitor research
  • Buy ads
  • Contact wholesalers
  • Worry about someone stealing this idea

Is this a profitable idea? Stay tuned…

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