How to validate your online business idea (and get paid before building it)

It’s happened to most of us at some stage in our lives.

We come up with the fabulous new business idea and we then spend weeks and sometimes even months researching it.

We then spend thousands of rands investing in a logo and a website, product development & a marketing plan…

…and then when we finally launch.

And then nothing happens.

I’m hoping I’m not the only person this happens to?

How to validate your online business idea

In this article, I’ll share with you 4 simple ways to validate your business online idea in South Africa and why it’s important to do this first.

I will also share where to find potential customers that you can test your online business idea before investing any time or money on it.

And then, finally, the “Show-Me-The-Money” litmus test:

How to get someone to open their wallet and pay you for the product or service your thinking of creating before you’ve actually created it.

Before we get them to pay us, let’s dig into how to actually validate your online business idea…

Do this before deciding on your online business idea

When I’m thinking about creating a new online business there are three things that I look for in potential customers:

  1. They need to be a fairly small group
  2. They need to be super passionate and
  3. They need to already be spending money on what it is that I want to sell them.

Niching down in this process is vital. I never want to try and be all things for all people because when you do that you tend to miss everyone.

I want to find a small group of people that I can become the go-to guy in the specific niche.

This video will run through this concept in a lot more detail:

What does it mean to niche down?

Look at traditional mainstream media, for example. Their entire business model is built on getting in front of as many people as possible.

They are trying to build a massive audience which they then sell access. Advertisers and marketers then pay the media outlet to put their product or service in front of their audience.

In order to build a massive audience, many mainstream Media outlets dumb down the content.

Think lowest common denominator…

…a great example of this is when a ‘celebrity’ posts something on Twitter and a news organisation creates an article about the tweet.

They embed the tweet, then take a few of the replies to that tweet, and embed those too and then pedal it as a news article.

That is what I mean by dumbing-down contact.

There is absolutely no value in that type of content. They then use some clickbait’y headline to drive traffic to their website. While there, they hope someone clicks on an ad so that they can generate revenue.

That’s their business model!

When you become the ‘go-to person’ in a niche, you don’t need a massive audience to generate a significant income.

If you can find 1000 people to pay you R1000 a year for whatever it is you do, that’s a 1 million Rand a year business.

Read that again ☝️

All you need is 1000 people to pay you R1000 a year and you have a R1 000 000 per year business!

4 Ways to check if your online business idea is viable

When starting a new business or launching a new online product, I never want to be first to market.

I want to make 100% sure there are people spending money online already in the niche I am looking at.

To do that, these are the 4 places I go to…

The first place I look (and it’s kind of obvious) is Google.

If I can’t find anyone else doing something similar to what I’m thinking of doing, then I tend to stay away.

If Google doesn’t know about it, there probably isn’t much of a market for it.

The second place I look is on a website called Udemy.

Udemy is a marketplace for online courses. If an online course exists in your niche, it is bound to be on that website.

Doing a simple search of their online course directory will show you if there are currently people selling courses in the specific niche that you’re thinking of.

The third way to check if your online business idea is viable is to look at a website like Amazon. In South Africa, a great place to look is Takealot.

I search their book section to see if there are any books written on my specific niche.

If there are, I go into the individual book listings and then take a look at the reviews of each of those books.

Look in particular at the three-star reviews. It is those reviews that will give you ideas on how to improve on the topics that are being written about.

And then finally the fourth place to look is on Facebook.

Search for your niche or topic and then select groups as the search filter.
That will give you a fair indication that there are people in your specific niche currently congregating online.

For example, if you’re niche is underwater hockey (yes, that is actually a thing) this is how you would find those groups:

Request to join those groups and then hang out there to see what people are talking about and asking.

Once you know there is a market for your specific online product, it’s time for the “show-me-the-money” litmus test.

How to get people to pay you before creating your product or service online

The idea of pre-selling a product freaks a lot of people out. It is the single best way to test if there is a market for your product.

Getting someone to open their wallet and pay you is the only validation you need.

I’m not saying you need to be dishonest and tell people they’ll get the product straight away after they purchase…

…but getting someone to take out their credit card for a product that doesn’t exist yet, proves that there is a market for it.

What you need to do is make a pre-sales waiting list landing page. (Tools such as Convertkit or Gumroad can help you do this)

Drive traffic to that page and tell people you will deliver it by a certain date.
Before driving traffic to this page, decide on a number that would make it worth your while to create the product.

If you don’t hit that number in the pre-sale phase, you refund everyone who made the initial purchase.

If you hit the number you are hoping for then you’ve got proof of concept.
It’s then time to start creating your online product.

This is just a general overview of how I validate my new online products and businesses.

In future posts, I will be digging into each of these topics in more detail in the coming weeks and moths. I’ll also be showing you exactly how to build these platforms in various video tutorials that I’ll be uploading to my YouTube channel.

If you have any questions about generating an income online in South Africa today feel free to be in touch via Facebook or Twitter


Brad Nadauld

Brad is a full-stack digital marketer with a serious podcasting & Youtube addiction. Over the last 10 years, he has personally created numerous websites, podcasts & online courses. He's worked with large multi-national corporations, built several online businesses and consulted to a number of clients to help them grow their reach, impact and most importantly their income online.

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