So many entrepreneurs (including myself) make a huge mistake when starting a new business: they don't spend enough time on validating their online business ideas.
I made this mistake when I launched a training program called Restart Academy and when I wrote my first eBook.
Both launches failed miserably.
For this $10k/month case study, I'll spend more energy on validating the business idea, and so should you.
Before you know that you're working on a business that will earn $10k a month or more, you shouldn't spend time or money creating the products or services.
Believe me, putting work into an offer that doesn't sell is the worst feeling in the world.
Let's both, you and me, make sure that we're onto something this time.
The foundation of this case study will be the WP Store, where I'll sell productized services for WordPress users.
But before I can be sure I'm offering the right services, I need to validate my ideas.
And you should too:
The process I'm about to implement comes from Hiten Shah, co-founder of KISSmetrics and CrazyEgg.
Hiten is a genius in building businesses. And luckily he shares a lot of his wisdom with the world.
After reading his post on idea validation, I came up with actionable steps to validate the potential for WPStore.co.
Steps that you can easily implement yourself. They're free, and they don't require technical understanding at all.
Let's go through the three steps:
Ready to take action?!
According to Hiten, a problem hypothesis enables you to stay focused on validating a business idea instead of dabbling around.
In fact, I already experience this challenge in the first week of this case study. And I bet you struggled with focusing in the past as well.
Here is the problem hypothesis I will use during this case study:
"Business owners struggle with effectively generating leads and sales from their WordPress website."
There are a few very important words in this hypothesis, and it took me quite a while to narrow it down to this level:
Why I focus on business owners:
When building a $10k/month business, I need to have customers that can pay reasonable prices. Selling my $17 WP Workbook 101 won't get me there.
(Even though the WP Workbook 101 is worth it's price, selling it 588 times a month is a challenge.)
Here's Hiten's take on selecting a target market:
Consumer ideas focused on emotion, entertainment and leisure are more difficult to validate compared to products that businesses buy.
Businesses directly pay for the products they use. A person’s job at work is dependent on getting things done in their company. This validation process will be most useful to you when you’re validating ideas that target other businesses as customers. - Hiten Shah
I already have one offer that helps business owners generate more leads: the WP Summit.
It's interviews explain success-proven strategies to get leads using WordPress and to turn them into customers.
That is why the WP Summit will play a role in this case study, given the survey validates the problem hypothesis.
Besides that and depending on the results of the survey I'm about to create productized services (I tend to fall in love with this phrase) that will address the exact needs of the survey participants.
Meghan Trainor knew it: it's all about the base. No treble.
Similarly, for us it's all about the feedback. No assumptions.
We need to know how people react to our business idea, and I'm talking about the qualified feedback here.
Don't go and ask your friends "How do you like this idea?"
Their response doesn't mean anything unless their name is Pat Flynn, Neil Patel, Hiten Shah or Chris Ducker.
Instead, we'll use surveys to validate our business idea. And we'll get a reasonable number of answers to make the results reliable.
For this case study, I aim at getting 100 answers to my survey within the first week of the case study. That should be a valid resource of information, helping to identify the most urgent problems.
Validate your business ideas before blindly shooting for the stars. (Tweet This)
Surveys are a great tool to validate business ideas if you get enough people to fill them out.
But since I'm bootstrapping my $10k/month business (and you probably are, too), I'm not going to spend any money on professional survey tools.
That's why I'll create my survey with Google Forms.
Using Google Forms is easy, here's a tutorial from Google.
There's only one thing you need to make sure:
Now that we got the tech side of creating surveys covered let's talk about the structure and the questions.
Hiten's surveys contain three different types of questions:
Qualifying questions allow you to segment your answers and show you which customer groups you should follow up with.
My survey contains the following qualifiers:
I think those two questions will help me identify segments in my target audience: people who successfully use WordPress for their online marketing, and people who don't fully leverage its potential.
2. Market intelligence
These questions help you identify competition and the current state of the market.
That's important is these answers directly affect the positioning of your business.
Examples from my survey:
Those two questions give a pretty good insight into what WordPress users are interested in and willing to buy.
Don't neglect to analyze what products are successfully sold currently. They give you an idea of what your target market is buying and whether they'd be interested in an offer like yours.
Ask questions and let your target audience answer them. Evaluating these answers is time-consuming, but worth it.
Categorize them into buckets and learn what words people use to describe certain issues and challenges. That's key!
My discovery questions are:
I highly recommend that you include these three question types in your survey.
To receive answers to our survey, we need to make it available online.
Luckily, Google creates a link to that survey that you can simply send to anyone you want to answer the survey.
I'm sharing that link with:
Besides that, I'll leverage these ways to get as many eyes on the survey as possible:
Obviously there are bazillions of ways to get traffic and the eyes of your target audiences on your survey.
Let me quickly outline another way to get your survey answered: building a landing page and using ads to drive traffic to it.
You'll need to have a domain for your upcoming business.
Just register a domain with the name of your business or your name (to build a personal brand). Naming can be tricky, but don't spend too much time on it; names can change.
I registered wpstore.co with Namecheap, where I also manage the domain for my personal blog. Their support is amazing, and pricing is fair, Namecheap is a great choice.
For hosting, I rely on Cloudways. I haven't seen a hosting company with support and performance as good as Cloudways.
WP Engine has been my favorite (and I can still recommend them).
However, on Cloudways I can have more than one websites in my account at very reasonable pricing. WP Engine gets a bit expensive when you manage more than one WordPress site.
After you got the domain and hosting sorted, install a simple landing page. That landing page only serves two purposes:
That's it. No fancy design or countless blog posts needed to validate your business idea.
Here's how I built the landing page for the WP Store:
Notice that I didn't use the WP Store domain for this survey.
Currently, I'm not sure if the WP Store is offering the right products (I don't have any feedback yet).
If someone would open WP Store after answering the survey and is disappointed in the products, I lost a customer.
That's why I like to separate the survey and the WP Store.
The beauty of creating a separate landing page for the survey is that you can frame the survey in some context.
You can let people know what you're working on and how they will benefit from participating in your survey.
I'm currently setting up retargeting ads for this site, and I'll show you in one of the next posts on how I'm doing that.
If you want to learn more about driving traffic with ads, watch out for the interview I've done with Dennis Yu from Blitzmetrics. Their blog is jam-packed with advice and a great resource on advertising and marketing.
I'll publish the interview very soon, and if you subscribe to my mailing list, you'll be immediately notified when it airs (and get all updates on the $10k/month case study).
I won't make the same mistakes again that I made in earlier businesses, this time I'll validate the business idea before executing on it.
A big Thank You goes to Hiten Shah, for sharing an actionable and success-proven blueprint for the validating business ideas.
Getting 100 responses to the survey within a week should be possible with the methods I outlined above.
If you want to join this case study and start building your own $10k/month business, simply leave a comment below this post and make sure to subscribe to my mailing list.
That will get you a sample chapter from my WP Workbook 101, outlining how to build membership areas on WordPress - a strategy we'll use in this case study.
I'm looking forward to crushing this with you!