Writing for the Harvard Business Review, entrepreneur Scott Anthony offers Nine Ways to Test an Entrepreneurial Idea. I like his list.  Some are obvious, and some are surprising, all are useful.

Here are my five favorites. This is all quoted directly from the original, but I’ve cut down the explanations.

  1. Talk to a prospective customer to get their perspective. Remember, that is likely to be different from your perspective.
  2. Research an analogy.Who did something similar? What can you find out about how well that worked from public sources? Remember, a failure doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, if you can understand why the failure happened.
  3. Visualize it.What would the thing look like? Create a sketch or mockup to bring the idea to life. For example, consider a six-panel storyboard (like a cartoon) that describes how people find out about, obtain, and then use your product or service.
  4. Conduct a broader assumption identification exercise.  That sounds like a mouthful, but this is really nothing more than asking yourself “what would need to be true” for this idea to be viable. Which of those assumptions makes you worried?
  5. Spend an hour conducting a past pattern exercise. That is, look back at things you have done that have worked, and things that haven’t worked. What separates them?

I recommend reading all nine points in the original.

(Image: snail_race/Flickr cc)

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.