When it comes to starting a business, sometimes the first problem we face is coming up with an idea, and sometimes it’s trying to figure out which idea to do first! If you are struggling to come up with an idea, I recommend checking out my 102 Business Ideas for Young Entrepreneurs resource to get some ideas of what you could try. If you are like me, our entrepreneur muscles have been working for a little bit and we start realizing ideas are everywhere! Figuring out which one to work on next is sometimes the hardest part.
This brings me to an idea that Alan Donegan speaks about in his podcast, Rebel Entrepreneur, (which I highly recommend you take some time to listen to), where he talks about the idea of “mini experiments”. The idea behind a mini experiment is that we can spend a ton of time trying to predict how a business will turn out, how the market will react, and how much it will cost. OR we can get started right now, give it a try for a short period of time, and see how it does. A mini experiment is designed to let you try out an idea. During this time you want to see:
- Does the market like it and want it?
- Does it make money?
- Do you enjoy working on it?
If you can’t say yes to those 3 questions, then you may want to consider moving on to your next idea or see if there are things you can change about your business to turn those questions into a yes.
WHAT IS A MINI EXPERIMENT?
A mini experiment is going to be a very abbreviated version of your business idea. The aim is to get it up and going quickly, and for it to be something that comes to a natural conclusion within a short period. I spoke recently about the Millionaire’s Club that I mentor doing a mini experiment with the virtual game tournament. They set up and ran a virtual Uno Tournament which ran very smoothly, though didn’t produce the level of profit that we were hoping for. We didn’t lost money but we only ended up making a couple of dollars, so we barely checked question #2. The market reaction was a hard one to gauge because we probably didn’t do a good enough job promoting it, and highlighting the benefits to the customer. So now we are back to the design stage and deciding if we want to try it again with a new approach, or if we want to try a different game, or a new business altogether.
That’s the fun part. The experiment itself only lasted 3 weeks, which meant we didn’t have to commit a huge amount of time to it to figure out if we wanted to keep trying it. We kept our costs super low and looked for a way to run it in a very efficient manner. It certainly could’ve been more polished and glamorous, but that would’ve meant an investment of time and money into something that we didn’t know for sure that we wanted to continue.
You can treat your first or next business venture in the same way. Instead of feeling like you need to commit to a new idea for a year or years, think of a way to shrink it down into a single product offering or short window of time where you offer a service. Think back to how to get things for free, and borrow what you need to try your business idea out. Utilize free websites and free trials, commit to single events rather than long contracts. Once done, you can decide if you want to keep going or not!
HOW DO I PICK THE IDEA TO TRY?
It really doesn’t matter, but what I like to do is to use an Idea Evaluation Chart. This let’s me put my business ideas on a visual display where I can measure two things.
- How excited I am about an idea.
- How easy it is to get started or do a mini experiment.
Once I know these things, I can pick an idea that lights me up and won’t take a ton of time or money to try it out. If this is your first business, then go for super easy and as exciting as you can get. You want to learn the steps to setting up a business now, and then you can apply those lessons to another business in the future that might need some more time to get started. If you have a business already, this could be an exercise to figure out what to add next, or what other business you could try starting on the side.
I am currently in the middle of a mini experiment where I am trying out writing a children’s book. I’ve already published The Simple StartUp, so it’s not a completely new experience, but a children’s book is a very different type of publishing effort, with a new audience in mind. I am starting with a single book, and doing print-on-demand, which means that I will make less money per book sale but I also won’t end up with a garage full of books that I can’t sell if the market tells me they don’t like it. If it turns out that the book is popular, then I may switch to printing a bunch and doing fulfilment by Amazon, but at least I can figure it out first without spending a ton of money. If you want to follow my journey creating the book and see how it turns out, make sure you follow me on Instagram.
I would love to hear your ideas for a mini experiment. Send me an email and tell me about your ideas and what a mini experiment might look like for them!