My father is joining the ranks of retirees starting online business ventures and he’s in his 70’s. When you think about it, being a micropreneur is a perfect way to share his many years of business knowledge without having to leave the comfort of his home office – if he so chooses. And it’s a perfect way to create additional revenue to supplement his retirement.
At his age, though he has seen and done a great deal and if you’re in the same boat – it may be hard for you to pin down a particular area on which to focus your new company. I believe it is a waste of time to write out an entire business plan if you’re still not sure about your business concept – instead try what I call the Affinity Marketing Proof of Concept Phase.
This Phase occurs before you write a business plan. You start with an idea and the goal is simply to test your market and prove or disprove and refine your marketing message and concept.
To launch a business you need to determine if you can make any money at it. Otherwise it’s simply a hobby or pastime. If you want to see if your business has merit with a Proof of Concept Phase, you’ll need a:
- Fuzzy idea of what you want to offer (product or service)
- 1 or more Facebook pages
- Twitter account
- Custom Logo files which can be used on all the social media platforms
- Identity – enough about your concept to fill out the basic information on Facebook and Twitter
- Placeholder URL is optional – but I like to have it just in case the idea takes hold. If you don’t end up using this particular URL – you can redirect it to the site you develop later or resell it.
You then simply set up your accounts and begin talking about your concept about 2 – 3 times per week and do a bit of announcing and cross posting on all your social media platforms. Watch to see the audience that shows up to hear what you have to say. Tweak your content every once in a while to see what people respond to. (Hint: People hate the oversell, so make the Identity all about them – NOT YOU)
At first things will likely be slow to take off – with Facebook, there is a tipping point at around 200 people or so. If your idea resonates, this is when the page “Likes” will take on a life of their own – even if you’re not posting new content very often. At this point, you’re simply collecting names and analyzing the common threads amongst who shows up.
I recommend spending a bit more time on Facebook than on Twitter because Facebook “Likes” have more long-term value. Just follow these ideas for engaging your audience and if you find your page taking off – and reaching in the 3, 4 or (*gasp*) 5 digit Number of “Likes” – begin working on your business plan and main site. You may just have something there worth pursuing.
Keep in mind, you can launch multiple Proof of Concept Facebook pages to test your market, but the key is to listen to what people begin to talk about around your particular concept and to capture the characteristics about your perfect customer. Not everyone who presses “Like” will be a perfect customer to you.
This is one of the fastest ways to:
- determine if you have a market at all
- mine that market for their needs; and then
- fulfill the needs of that market.
Technology and the ease of social media make the Proof of Concept Phase one of the fastest ways to the money, and one of the smartest ways to find the details you need when you write out your full blown business, sales, PR and marketing plan.
At the end of the Proof of Concept Phase you’ll know what the market pain points are, what skills you need to have (or hire) to help your target market and the price they’d be willing to pay. And depending on your skill set, YOU can do all of this with less than $100.