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How to Generate Business Ideas & Validate Them!

I’m a big believer in not quitting your job to start a successful business, but quitting your job once you already have a successful business. The order is often flipped, so people think starting a business is an all-or-nothing scenario—it doesn’t have to be.

You can start a successful side project while working full time, and give your business time to grow the right way instead of having a get-rich-quick mindset out of necessity.

The first time I quit my job to pursue my own business, I did it all wrong. I saved up enough money to support myself for about 4 months, and I quit my day job (boy, was it glorious).

I read books and blogs telling me to “just do it” and that everything would be fine. They said I had to take a leap of faith to start a business, and they were wrong. Maybe that’s worked for some people before, but it’s still not an intelligent way to go about it.

I barely had anything going with my business—it was generating almost no profit. I eventually had to go back to working for a company, and try again (boy, was that tough).

Looking back on that experience, the reason my first business failed wasn’t because I was lacking the tools for it to succeed. My business failed because nobody wanted my product.

You can make sure that doesn’t happen to you by validating your ideas before you start.

Here are some quick ways to generate business ideas and validate them.

Idea Generation

List at least 3 things you’re really good at (more if you can). If you get stuck, think about what things your friends and family members always ask you for advice on. For example, I get asked a lot about marketing, graphic design, and fitness.

For each of those, list at least 5 ways you think you could make money. For example, for fitness, I could start a fitness blog teaching people how to be fit and make money selling fitness plans, I could be an independent personal trainer, I could develop a fitness program where companies would pay me to train their employees once a week on location, etc..

Now prioritize that list starting with the idea that you’re most passionate about, and validate that idea. If there’s no traction, move onto the next idea on the list.


This is the part where we see if you have any potential customers. Don’t get too caught up trying to create something that’s never been done before. If other people are successful with something similar, that means there’s a proven market for it, which is a good thing.

Create a free account with Mailchimp and create a form that you can send people to join your email list.

Send an email, text, or Facebook message to anyone you know who might be interested in your product/service. Briefly tell them what your product/service is and ask them if they’re interested in purchasing it. If your idea is a form of consulting (like developing fitness plans or designing logos), set up a Paypal account and try to get 3 purchases. Nothing validates an idea like money in your pocket. If it’s a physical product that you would create in the future, an online software solution, or something like a blog or digital product, ask them if they’re interested in subscribing to an email list to be notified when you launch.

Think about who your audience is, and where they hang out online. Post comments in forums that cater to that audience. I find Reddit to be very useful for honest feedback. Create an account if you don’t have one, and find relevant subreddits to post a link to your sign-up form or paypal account. Be sure to not be spammy, and adhere to Reddit and individual subreddit rules.

There’s no formula saying how many email subscriptions or positive comments it takes for an idea to be considered “good”, but consider the cost of your product/service compared to how many people are interested, and use that as a guide to determine what you consider a good amount of interest.

And again, nothing validates an idea better than money in your pocket.

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