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Part 5: Validate and Choose The Best Online Business Idea (Your Most Profitable Business Idea) 

 October 5, 2021

By  Jake Lang

Part 5: Choose The Best Online Business Idea

Welcome to part five of the online business idea mini-series. In this mini-series, I’m giving you bits and pieces from my business ideas book Step One (a book about finding and validating your first business idea). This is part five of the mini-series. In this blog, I break down how to validate and choose the best online business idea from your list. Ideally, you will choose your most profitable business idea.

You can access the other parts of my business idea series here:

Disclaimer: This is directly copied from Chapter Six of my book Step One. There may be references to the book, or other chapters, in this blog post. That’s because it is literally copied and pasted from the book to make sure you get all of the necessary content for free (but just a heads up, if I say “later in the book” or “in the next chapter”, that is because I copied this straight from the book).

Validate and Choose The Best Online Business Idea (Your Most Profitable Business Idea)

Step One Book Cover

You now have three viable business ideas. At this stage, any one of your three remaining ideas could be your first business. Any idea that has made it past the first four parts of this mini-series is viable and could be your first business. You could put in the time, effort, and energy needed to make any of those three ideas work.

But we are not going to stop there. You are going to take one more step to determine which of your three ideas is the very best idea for your first business venture. This one final step will ensure you choose the one idea that offers you the best opportunity for success.

In this section, you will conduct an in-depth analysis of your target market and your competition. I want you to conduct this research for each of your three business ideas. In the end, you will choose the one best idea to pursue as your first business venture.

One Final Step: It’s Important!

The year was 2013; I sat in my bedroom anxiously awaiting my first sale. I was a senior at the University of New Hampshire and had just launched Directmailleads.com, my first online business; I was selling residential and commercial addresses to local small businesses for their direct mail marketing campaigns.

I thought it was an amazing idea. I leveraged a database that I was given access to from my university to export thousands of addresses into an Excel file based on the demographic criteria filters that I had set. I would send this Excel file to small business owners for their targeted mailing campaigns. I launched the business and started blogging, tweeting, and making cold calls. It was time to get rich and pay off my college debt. I had the idea, I launched the business, and I assumed the money would follow.

There was one small problem; I was not solving anyone’s problem. No one wanted what I was selling. I called dozens of small businesses in the area: pizza parlors, CPAs, even the University of New Hampshire marketing department. I pitched hard to sell my service. I was laughed off the phone more than once; those who were nice enough not to laugh explained that my value proposition was way off the mark. Their business did not need my services, and it was unlikely that any other small business would need them either.

The reason for this failed first attempt at entrepreneurship boils down to one glaring flaw in my business plan. I never talked to anyone in my target market. I did not understand the pain points of a small business owner; I did not understand their struggles. I assumed that all small business owners struggled with marketing, and I assumed that all small business owners struggled to find leads for their direct mail marketing campaigns. I was wrong. I was not solving anyone’s problem with my business. Furthermore, I did not analyze the competition. I did not understand that small businesses already had access to free databases that could pull thousands of addresses for their marketing campaigns. I did not realize that there was already an oversaturated market of full-service marketing corporations meeting this need by compiling mailing lists, creating marketing flyers, and mailing the flyers directly to prospective customers. They were doing far more than I was offering for half the price.

I learned the hard way. Research your competition and talk to your target market first. Learn the struggles and pain points of your market before launching your business. That is what you are doing in this section. You are going to take your research one step further. For each of your business ideas, you will analyze the target market and competition. You are going to talk to your target market to learn its pain points and better understand the value proposition of your business.

This research, this final deep dive into your three business ideas, is critical. You will have a better understanding of your target market and competition before you even begin to conduct business. This will help you determine which idea offers the best market potential. That is the best online business idea, the one that you will choose. This chapter is broken into two sections, each of which covers an aspect of research to help you choose the one best idea for your first business.

The first section is about market research. You will research and answer the question “What is the number one problem or challenge that my target market faces?” The second section is about competitive research. In this section, you will determine what customers like and dislike about the competition. This research will help you understand how you can differentiate your business and beat your competitors before you even start.

By the end of this section, you will have conducted these two research exercises for each of your three remaining business ideas. Market research and competitive research will help you determine which of your three business ideas offers the best opportunity for success.

The Best Online Business Idea: Target Market Research

What is the single biggest pain point or challenge that your target market is facing? That is the most important question you need to answer. You need to answer this question for each of your three final business ideas.

The purpose of a business is to provide a solution to the target market’s pain points. If your target market faces a big enough pain point, one that people are willing to pay to solve, then you have a viable business. The success of your business depends on how successfully you can solve the problems and challenges faced by your target market.

Research

Answer this question now, before you start your business. Do this research for each of your three business ideas. The results will help you determine which idea offers the best business potential. Ideally, you want to choose a business with a large market size and a common pain point. That pain point will become the focus of your business, and solving that problem for your target market will become the value proposition of your business and the basis of the products you sell.

This means that, when comparing your three business ideas, you should choose the idea with the biggest pain point felt by the majority of people in the relevant market. For example, at The Entrepreneur Ride Along, I found that most of my target market faced the same challenge with the same pain point. They wanted to start a business but struggled to find a viable business idea. So, that became the purpose of my business and the reason for writing this book. With this understanding of my target market, I validated the market potential of my business, launched with a strong value proposition, and determined the products I would sell to solve my target market’s problem (this book).

That is what I want you to do now. Determine what challenges and struggles your target market faces. This will give you clarity on each of your business ideas to determine which is the best online business idea with the best business potential. There are three primary ways to conduct this research:

  • Survey
  • Conversation
  • Observation

These research methods are easy and will take you no more than one to two hours each. Carry out each of the three research methods for each of your three business ideas.

Survey

The easiest way to determine your target market’s pain point is to ask them. This is the most powerful way to learn about your target market. The internet, especially social media groups, make it incredibly easy to find sub-groupings of your target market where you can conduct this research.

The easiest way to conduct this research is to create a survey. Create a survey to ask your target market what challenges they face. I recommend setting up a formal survey using a program like Google Forms or Survey Monkey. These programs allow respondents to reply anonymously and seamlessly collect the survey responses for ease of analysis.

Your survey should be only one question. That’s it. Just a single, simple, open-ended question. You do not want to create a long, drawn-out survey that will both turn people away and generate far more data than you need right now.

That one question should be “What is the single biggest challenge you face related to X?” Replace the “X” with your business idea or topic.

Phrase the survey question so it flows naturally and makes sense to the reader. For example, if I were creating a survey about my bonsai tree idea from Chapter Five, my survey question would be “What is the biggest challenge you face when owning and caring for your bonsai tree?”

That’s it. That is the only question I want you to ask, but it is a very revealing question. It will provide invaluable insights into your target market. The open-ended approach allows your target market to tell you in their own words what they are struggling with, which is better than you guessing their pain points.

For example, when I conducted this research for my niche website about the Pomsky dog breed, my one-question survey asked “What is the biggest challenge you are facing right now related to the Pomsky dog breed?” Over 150 people replied, and I learned that I had two potential markets: people who did not yet own a Pomsky and people who already own a Pomsky. Through this research, I found that 90% of Pomsky owners struggled with training their dogs. Training was the biggest pain point of my target market, something the open-ended survey responses told me in different ways. Some respondents complained that they could not get their Pomsky to listen to commands, others said they could not stop their Pomsky from barking, and some struggled with the high energy of this dog breed. The responses varied, but they all boiled down to one primary pain point: training a Pomsky. This was an amazing insight. By allowing my target market to tell me their pain point, I validated a need in my market. This validated that I could build a business by solving my target market’s biggest pain point. My value proposition became teaching Pomsky owners how to train their dogs.

That is what you are searching for; that is the purpose of the survey question. Find your target market’s biggest challenge and pain point. Validate that there is a problem your target market is facing and solve that problem. If you can do that with your products and services, you have a business.

Go ahead and create your one-question survey now. I recommend using one of the various free survey software programs; I prefer Google Forms. Make three copies of this survey, one for each of your business ideas. Once you have tweaked the question for your business ideas, you can begin posting the survey to collect responses.

The key at this point is to post your survey where your target market is located. Don’t post this survey on your Twitter or Facebook for friends and family to see (unless they are your target market). You only want survey responses from people in your target market, not your mom and dad. If I am researching my golf business idea, I want to post my survey online in groups and communities related to golf. That way, I collect responses from real golfers instead of my grandmother, who has never golfed in her life. You want real people in your target market to answer this survey with actionable information about their challenges and struggles.

My favorite place to post surveys and conduct research is Reddit, a popular social media platform. It is essentially an enormous forum that is divided into sub-forums called subreddits. On Reddit, you can find sub-groups related to your niche. For example, I found subreddits for golf, golf swing, golf clubs, and golf classifieds. I could post my survey to each of these subreddits to collect survey responses. There is one particular community on Reddit specifically dedicated to surveys and market research. Go to steponebook.com/redditsurvey. This will redirect you to a community group on Reddit where you can post your survey to collect responses. More than 150,000 people subscribe to this community to answer surveys. Make sure to read the group rules before posting your survey. You will need to follow the specific rules of this subreddit to post your survey and ensure that you receive responses from people in your target market. Don’t worry; the rules are very simple and easy to follow.

I also recommend finding communities on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other internet platforms where you can post your survey. You can go into these groups, announce that you are conducting research for a new study, and convey your appreciation to those who take the time to reply to your one-question survey. For example, when I posted my survey to a Facebook group to collect responses, I created the following post:

Hey everyone, I am doing some research on the Pomsky dog breed! I am trying to learn about this breed. For ease of research, I created a survey to collect responses. If you have a free minute, would you mind taking this one-question survey? I will be happy to share the results once the research is complete!

That’s it. A simple post like that helped me collect responses from my target market. Create your survey now and begin collecting responses to the question “What is the single biggest challenge you face related to X?” Those answers will be critical to understanding your target market and help you determine the biggest pain point that the market is facing.

Conversation

Conversations are one of the best ways to learn about your target market. I am an introvert; I do not have the courage to strike up conversations with strangers on the street. Instead, I conduct this research and have these conversations online, primarily through social media. I find groups where my target market is congregating on Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and other online forums. I enter these groups and create a new post to ask a variation of the same question that you asked in your survey, “what is the single biggest challenge you are facing related to X?”.

The goal of this post is to kick off a conversation, encourage engagement, and start a dialog with people in your target market. When conducting this research, I make one slight modification to the survey question. I don’t ask “What is the single biggest challenge you are facing related to X?”; instead, I tweak the question to make my post more personal. For example, when posting to a forum and conducting research for my Agile Exam Academy website, I posted this question to a project management forum: “What would you say is the #1 most challenging or difficult part of the PMI-ACP exam? Just trying to cover my bases before I jump into the studying!” As you can see, this is more personal and encourages dialog.

Here is another example; if I were to post in a Facebook group about hedgehogs, I might phrase the post as “Hey all! What would you say is the hardest part about owning a hedgehog? I am trying to learn all I can!” This approach is more personal and designed to encourage replies and engagement.

Post your question to Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Reddit communities, and any other forums related to your target market. You will get replies, generally by people commenting on your post to answer the question. Read and reply to each person who comments on your post. Ask follow-up questions, thank people for their insights, and have real conversations with the people in your target community. Learn exactly what their problems are, why they occur, and how they are currently trying to solve them. You will learn a lot about your target market through these conversations.

When you post this question, you do not need to announce that you are starting a business. In truth, you do not know if this is the right business for you. When I make these posts and start these conversations, I ask inquisitive questions to learn as much as I can, because I am genuinely trying to better understand each person’s pain points. I am not trying to sell anything. I am not acting as a businessperson; I am just treating this as a normal conversation and trying to learn from someone with experience.

This process is very similar to conducting a survey, except that you are posting your question to a forum or on a social media platform. This approach encourages engagement. Unlike a survey that is posted and collects responses anonymously, social media posts are not anonymous. They are tied to your name, and the respondents are replying from their public accounts. This gives you a chance to have real conversations with real people in your target market.

If you are comfortable and not a nervous introvert like me, you can use this same process with people offline. Go out into the real world and conduct this same research. Go to a store and start conversations with people in your target market. Again, you do not need to tell people that you are considering starting a business; just strike up a friendly conversation. If you want to start a business about gardening, go to the garden section of your local hardware store and start chatting with the other customers. Browse around the aisles and say something like “Excuse me, I am new to this. You seem like an experienced gardener; what advice can you give to someone just starting out?” Talk to the store employees and ask questions like “What do I need to know as someone new to gardening?” or “I don’t know what to do; what are the most common questions you answer for someone new to gardening?” This is a great way to learn more about your target market. Pay attention to the specific words people use in these conversations and pay attention to the struggles or challenges that come up. These conversations will help you better understand how you can serve your target market.

Starting a conversation is that simple. Go out now, whether it’s in person or online, and strike up a conversation with people in your target market with a variation of “What is the single biggest challenge you are facing related to X?” Follow up with everyone who replies, asking questions that will best help you learn from and understand each person you engage in conversation. This is a great opportunity to go deep with people in your target market to truly understand their pain points.

Observation

You are not the only person on the internet asking this question. You are not the only person posting questions and talking about this target market. This exact conversation is already happening on various social media groups, multiple times a day. You can go into these groups and read conversations from real people in your target market discussing their pain points. That is the beauty of the internet. These conversations are archived, they are public, and you can search for conversations and see what questions or problems your target market is discussing.

You can observe your target market and learn about its challenges using Google and social media. Find groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other forums related to your niche. Search through recent posts and the most popular posts and take note of what people in your target market are asking about and discussing. For example, when I observe the Great Dane niche, I see a post on Facebook asking a simple question: “What is owning a Great Dane like?” Another post on Reddit asks about things to know before getting a Great Dane. These two posts each have more than 20 people engaging and discussing Great Danes. I read all the comments and conversations on these two posts. Common topics were food, types of food, and how much food a Great Dane should eat. I also saw a lot of Great Dane owners discussing training; digging is an especially popular topic. Lastly, I found a few people discussing the health of this dog breed, particularly regarding the weak hind legs of a Great Dane. In this one quick search, I found three big pain points related to Great Danes. I could add each to my research tracking file, because any of them could be the value proposition and biggest pain point that I focus on in my business.

Search Google for your topic. Use quotation marks in your Google search to find pages with a specific phrase or word. For example, if I search “Great Dane drool” Google will only show me pages that include the phrase “Great Dane drool”. If I search “Great Dane” “challenge” Google will search for pages that have the phrase “challenge” and “Great Dane” anywhere on the page in any order (but it must contain those two terms in quotations). From this search, I see forum posts with people asking questions like “What is the biggest challenge about owning a Great Dane?” By reading through this conversation, I can gather more information about my target market’s pain points. Google can also be used to search specific websites for specific phrases by using the site: search function. If I wanted to find posts on Reddit related to Great Danes, I would enter the following: “Great Dane” site:reddit.com. This would return search results for any Reddit post that mentions the specific word “Great Dane”. Use this feature to search forums for specific topics related to your business idea. For example, when I was conducting this research for the PMI-ACP exam and my Agile Exam Academy website, I searched the following on Google:

  • Hardest part about “PMI” “ACP” – This search returned blogs and forums discussing the PMI-ACP exam and why it is difficult.
  • “PMI” “ACP” site:reddit.com – This search showed me a few Reddit groups and specific posts discussing the PMI-ACP exam.
  • “PMI-ACP” site:projectmanagement.com/discussion-topic – This search showed me specific posts related to the PMI-ACP exam on the projectmanagement.com forum.

Observe your target market. Use these tricks to search Google for your business idea and read through the conversations in social media groups related to your niche. You will find that your target market is already on the internet, discussing your niche and asking for help. Track this information, keep note of what your target market is saying, compile that information in an Excel file or Word document, and tally the most common comments and discussion points related to your target market. This will support the research from your surveys and conversations and will help you determine your target market’s biggest pain point.

Your Goal

Interact with at least 30 people in your target market through surveys and conversations and observe at least 20 other people. In the end, you should have at least 50 data points of reference. If you can do more than 50, do more. The more the better. However, there’s no need to overdo it; you do not need thousands of survey responses. Shoot for 50 to 150, which is plenty of data to determine the biggest problem in your target market.

The Best Online Business Idea: Competition Research

Competition is a good thing. You want to see that there are other people in your niche who are successfully operating a profitable business. This confirms that there is a viable market in your niche, that there are already people willing to spend money to address the challenges they are facing. Now, all you have to do is figure out how to differentiate yourself from the competition.

That is what you will do in this section: review your competition, analyze the businesses selling products and services in your niche, and determine how you can differentiate yourself to beat the competition. The goal is to answer the following questions:

  • Is anyone making money in this niche?
  • What value do they offer?
  • How will you differentiate?

Conduct this research for each of your three business ideas. This will help you choose the best online business idea.

Competition Research

In this step of the research phase, you will find and analyze five to ten competitors. This process should be quick and simple; it is not a full, in-depth competitor analysis; you are simply conducting quick, baseline competitor research. You do not need to spend more than 15 minutes per business idea conducting this research, which means it should take no more than 45 minutes to research all three ideas. There are three places I recommend searching to analyze your competition.

Start with Google, which is the easiest way to carry out this kind of analysis. Simply search Google for your niche. If your business idea is vegetable gardening, go to Google and search for vegetable gardening. Look for websites, blogs, and other resources related to gardening. Go check through the first few pages of the Google search results. For a competitive topic like gardening, you will need to go a few pages deeper to find your competition because the first few pages will be comprised of big box retail stores like Home Depot and Lowes. Use the Google search techniques detailed in the previous section to look for specific products or competing businesses. For example, you could use the search query “gardening” “tomatoes” or “gardening” “course” to find web pages talking about gardening tomatoes and gardening courses. Review your competitors. Click through the blogs and websites to see what products and services your competitors are selling. In your research file, write down the products or services offered by each competitor. Note the product’s price, type, and what people like and dislike about it. To track the likes and dislikes of a product, go back to the Google homepage and search for product reviews. For example, if I see that my competitor XYZ Gardening is offering The Ultimate Tomato Gardening Course, I would search Google for XYZ Gardening Ultimate Tomato Gardening Course Reviews or “Ultimate Tomato Gardening Course” XYZ Gardening. I would then look through the results for websites, blogs, and social media posts discussing that course. You will probably see posts on Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter talking about the specific product or service your competitor offers. Read these posts to see what people are saying about those offerings. What do people like about this product being sold? What do people dislike about this product? What do people like and dislike about your competitor? The answers will help you better understand how your competitors are meeting the needs of your target market and how you can differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Next, conduct competitive research on Amazon; go to Amazon.com and search for your niche. For example, if you are continuing to research a gardening business, search Amazon for topics related to gardening such as tomato gardening. See what products and books your competitors are selling on Amazon. Are they selling physical products? Are they selling books and audiobooks? If so, look at the reviews. Does the product have thousands of reviews? If so, that is a clear indication that the competitor is selling a large volume of this product. What is the average review on this product; is it five stars or one star? Read the reviews. Why are customers leaving a good review; what did they like about the product? Why are customers leaving bad reviews; what did they dislike about the product? If you have a specific competitor in mind, like XYZ Gardening, search Amazon for XYZ Gardening. See whether this competitor is selling anything in the Amazon Marketplace. This research will help you understand the range of products being offered in your niche and will help you learn what your target market likes and dislikes about the products available in your niche. Track all this research in your research file.

Lastly, check Udemy. Udemy is a marketplace for entrepreneurs to create and sell courses; essentially, it is Amazon for online courses. You will find courses about gardening, golf, dog training, and just about anything that can be taught sold as a course on Udemy. Go to Udemy.com, search for your niche, and review the relevant courses. What courses are your competitors offering? What problems are your competitors solving with their Udemy online courses? On Udemy, you can see how many people are enrolled in each course, you can see which courses are most popular, and you can see user ratings for each course. Look through the courses to see which courses and course topics are most popular in your niche, based on how many people are enrolled. This will help you understand how severe your target market’s pain point is. The more people taking courses to solve their problems, the more severe those problems are. Look at the reviews for each of your competitor’s courses, both the good reviews and the bad reviews. What does your target market like and dislike about each course? Did a particular course solve their problem, or is it missing something critical? This research on Udemy will help you better understand your target market’s pain points, help you grasp the size of your market based on how many courses your competitor is selling, and help you learn how your competitor is (or is not) meeting the needs of your target market. Track all this research in your Excel file or Word document.

When I conducted this research for my insurance education business, I learned exactly what my target market disliked about the competition. The reviews often had phrases like “the practice questions did not prepare me for the actual exam,” “it took too long to study,” and “the content is too dry and too long.” Based on this feedback, I created an online course that cut out the fluff to focus only on the most important topics, allowed students to pass their exams with half the study time, and added realistic practice exam questions designed as close as possible to the actual exam. I used this insight to create my value proposition, “CPCU in less time. With less effort,” and that is why people buy my courses.

I want you to conduct this same kind of competitive research for each of your three business ideas. Track all the research in your Excel file or Word document. Determine who your biggest competitors are, research their product offerings, value propositions, and reviews. This research will indicate whether there are competitors already making money in your niche (remember that competition is a good thing), help you estimate the profit potential in that niche, and help you differentiate yourself from the competition.

The Best Online Business Idea:  Take Action (Next Steps)

Do this research. Stop now and conduct this research for each of your final three business ideas. Talk to at least 30 people in your target market (through surveys and conversations) and observe at least 20 others. Determine the biggest pain point of your target market. Analyze the products and value propositions of at least five competitors. Determine how you can differentiate yourself from the competition. Based on your research, determine what product or service you will sell when you launch your business. Keep track of all this research in your Excel file or Word document.

Stop and do this now. This is how you will choose the best idea, the one idea that you will pursue in your first business venture.

Choose One Business Idea

You have done the research; you have come this far. Now, it’s time to choose one profitable business idea (the one best online business idea).

Look at your three final business ideas. Look at the research you conducted for each of your ideas. Compare the three business ideas to one another. In this final step, after all of your hard work progressing through the steps in this mini-series, I want you to take one last step. Ask yourself the following series of questions about your three business ideas and the research conducted in this chapter to help you determine which one idea you should choose for your first business venture.

Target Market

Look at your three business ideas and compare their target markets. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which target market has a clear and definite pain point that needs to be solved?
  • Which target market are you most excited about; is there one that best suits your personality?
  • Which target market offers the best business opportunity?

Competition

Take another look at your three business ideas. Consider the competitive landscape of each one and ask yourself the following questions:

  • In which market is there a clear need for your business that is not being solved by the competition or that could clearly be better solved by your business?
  • How can you differentiate yourself from the competition to better solve the pain point of your target market?
  • Which market is large enough to support multiple businesses so that they all make money selling products and services in the same niche?

Product

Finally, consider how you will generate revenue from this business and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What product or service would you sell; what problem would you solve with your product or service?
  • Estimate the profit potential of each business; which business idea would be most profitable?
  • What would be the value proposition of your business?

Your Best Online Business Idea

Ask yourself these questions. Really think about how you answer these questions based on the research you have conducted in this chapter. Which idea stands out as the best idea? Which of these three business ideas are you daydreaming about? Which one do you envision yourself pursuing as your first business?

Think back on all the work and research you have conducted throughout this mini-series. You have been through a lot. You have gone from no ideas to over 150 ideas and back down to one idea. There is one idea on your list worth pursuing for your first business venture.

The good news is that there is no wrong answer. Any business idea that has made it through the process this far could be your first business venture. Each of your three remaining ideas has made it through the brain dump list, the Long Tail Pro analysis, and the final deep-dive analysis in this section. You can make any of these businesses work; the process and research laid out in this section will simply help you choose the best idea with the greatest chance of immediate profitability and success. That in no way means that your other ideas will not work. When you choose one idea to pursue for your first business, the other two business ideas are not going anywhere. If you change your mind a year from now, you can always pivot and come back to this book and these other business ideas. But you need to choose one now, the one profitable business idea that you will take and run with: the one that will be your first business.

Choose One

Ask yourself one final question. Which idea stands out to you as the best online business idea?

That is your business idea. That is the one idea you will take and pursue as your first business venture. You know the answer; now, make the choice. Choose that one business idea and take the first step into entrepreneurship.

Summary – Validate and Choose The Best Online Business Idea

It’s time to choose your one business idea. To help you get clear on which one to pursue, do a deep dive into the target markets, competition, and revenue models of each of your three business ideas.

Start with the target market. Use surveys, conversations, and observations to answer the question “What is the single biggest pain point or challenge that your target market is facing?” Talk to at least 30 people in your target market through surveys and conversations and observe at least 20 people to determine the biggest problem that your target market is facing.

Next, research your competition. For each business idea, determine who your competitors are, what they are selling, and what the target market likes (or dislikes) about each competitor. This research will validate that there are competitors already making money in this niche (remember that competition is a good thing), help you estimate the profit potential in this niche, and guide you in differentiating yourself from the competition.

Finally, determine how you will make money by choosing a revenue model and estimating the profit potential of each business idea. Review the 18 revenue models described in Part Four and choose one primary method that you will use to generate revenue. Use your target market research, review each pain point, and brainstorm a product or service that you could sell to solve the challenges faced by your target market.

Spend the next two hours conducting this research for each of your three business ideas. This is the last step. Look at your three final business ideas and at the research you conducted for each of them, compare the three business ideas to one another, and choose the one best idea.

Continue The Online Business Idea Mini-Series

Continue with the online business idea mini-series. Continue on to the next section of the mini-series below:

Ready to Start Your Business?

Step One Book CoverIf you find yourself saying “I want to start a business, but I don’t know what to do,” this is the book for you. In Step One you will research, validate, and choose the perfect online business idea. By the end of this book, you will come away with a business idea list, one validated business idea, and a plan to launch your first business.

Step One is all about taking action. With this book, you will come up with over one hundred and fifty business ideas, you will conduct market research to narrow your list of ideas down to one viable idea, and you will validate the idea so you can hit the ground running and launch your business.

Ready to start your business? Pick up your copy of Step One today, and get started today. By the end of this book, you will come away with the perfect idea–and plan–to launch your online business.

Jake Lang


Jake Lang is an author, entrepreneur, and founder of over seven online businesses. Jake now helps new entrepreneurs start and scale their first online business at TheEntrepreneurRideAlong.com where he shares his experiences along the entrepreneurial journey starting and growing new businesses.

It’s Jake’s mission to start a new online business every year and share everything behind the scenes on The Entrepreneur Ride Along Podcast and The Entrepreneur Ride Along Blog so that new entrepreneurs can learn from Jake’s mistakes, understand the struggles of starting a new business, and find the path to entrepreneurial success.

Jake Lang

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Start Your Business Today.

It starts with an idea.
Download my five favorite business ideas. The businesses I would start if I had more time.

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