Testing a new business idea? Take these eight steps for best results

Continuous innovation is key to the growth of any business. All innovation eventually begins as a general idea, but to bring that idea to life requires thoughtful and effective testing to reach a larger goal.

As successful business leaders, members of the Young Entrepreneur Council understand that testing must be done in a careful, controlled environment with clear metrics and benchmarks. Below, each of the eight shares a step you should always take when testing a new idea and explain how that step helps to achieve the best results.

1. Set limits

Set boundaries with which you will evaluate the new concept. Think about it and stick with it, even if your test doesn’t live up to your expectations. If you say you are going to test an idea, software, process, etc. for three weeks, make sure you really mean it! If you plan well enough you can get your idea across by conducting multiple small tests. This allows you to evaluate more effectively and innovate faster in smaller milestones. – Christopher Tarantino, Epicenter Innovation

2. Collect feedback

Whenever I try to invent or engrave a new niche for my business in my industry, an important first step is to always collect feedback from everyone on the team. Sometimes this means creating a minimally effective prototype of a product, and sometimes it can mean emailing a general survey to the team about improving a new workflow process. Collecting feedback internally from all employees, regardless of title, is an important part of this process as it can shed light on potential negative consequences that may be overlooked by some team members. The essence of true innovation is uncertainty — that’s what makes results so special — so getting Intel as far as possible before investing too much in full production is key to success. – Richard Fong, Bliss Drive

3. Split test

Split test is a great way to test your ideas without a commitment. Basically, this type of testing can be used in virtually every aspect of your marketing strategy and user interface. It changes one or more elements of your campaign or design and compares it to the original version. The goal is to see if your test gets more traffic, engagement, or clicks than the live version of your site. As you experiment with call to action, color schemes, and offers, you will gradually build your business based on how people respond to your tests. – John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

4. Set the budget

We usually take a percentage of the budget for testing. That way, not all of our eggs are in one basket and we can judge success without having to worry about what we are doing. It also allows us to get client-side approval. We then evaluate the results and decide whether we want to double the strategy, test a variation or define it as unusable for the time being. A separate budget for testing, research and development is important for thoughtfully innovating and judging results. We also usually have deadlines for such tests. – Ethan Kramer, Ike Creative

5. Use the UX Research Framework

Undoubtedly, businesses thrive and survive on their ability to innovate, move needles, and not be complacent or comfortable with the status quo. That said, experiments need to be done with perseverance, thoughtfulness and always with a strategic lens. When it comes to testing new ideas and introducing new service lines or product features, it is incredibly important to directly canvas a lot of potential users to gain clear and passive insights and perspectives. Additionally, consider using some user experience (UX) research frameworks to raise thoughtful questions and gather these objective responses. – Rang Zhang, tenant

6. Define the required resources

Understanding the potential resources and timeline needed to implement an idea is important. Often, management teams can ignore the lack of development time or the lack of a number of new processes that will be absolutely necessary for the success of a project. With time to spell out what resources will be needed, even for an MVP, the chances of project success can increase dramatically. In addition, management teams will be more likely to prioritize the most coordinated projects with their existing resources. – Fehjan Ali, Adsend Media LLC

7. Consider scalability

The whole point of coming up with these great ideas is to be scalable. This means you can see them grow and you can easily expand into new markets, products and services. The idea doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all. The point of an innovative idea is that you can do it in a variety of ways, and that’s a good thing because it’s easy to figure out how to turn it into a sustainable business. If a lot of your time and money goes to something that is going to be a flop, then you are just wasting your time and resources. Plus, you’ll be getting rid of clutter you don’t need. – Candice Georgias, Digital Day

8. Wait

We wait instead of jumping on the shiny new thing. This is our single most important verification tool, because if an idea seems as exciting and seemingly valid as a few weeks or especially a few months later, then we know that we are on something that needs more attention. – James Simpson, Goldfire Studios

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