Martin Feury, enterprise executive with the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) in Co Offaly, emphasises the importance of the first and most foundational step to starting your own business: testing your idea.

“You need to figure out if there is a customer base and if people would be willing to pay for your product or service,” he says.

“The best way to get that information is by testing your business idea.”

Entrepreneurs often skip this step because they are in a rush to launch, but not testing your product or service before launching is like pursuing an unfamiliar road without a road map – you will get lost a number of times. And while that may be fun for a weekend away, it is not how to run a business.

Simple steps to take in testing your new product or service idea include:

  • Running it by a group of critics: Speak to a limited number of well- intended friends and colleagues to get real feedback on your initial idea. Ask them for their honest opinion and look for constructive criticism; specific elements that you could improve on.
  • Tweaking it: Sure, your first prototype was great, but you can’t be afraid to change certain elements of your business if it has been mentioned by the majority of your critics.
  • Adopting a new mind set: Chances are that you already have an experimental mind - now you need to implement design thinking. That is, pulling together what’s desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable.
  • Building a prototype: Build a minimal viable product that you can use in your next step, which is market research. Don’t invest too much on putting together this model product or service.
  • Martin says: “In testing your idea out, you also need to look at whether you need a large number of products, or a small number of really high-quality offerings.” CL

    The LEO Start Your Own Business course is a free and excellent resource, with one-to-one mentoring included. The programme is currently run online and give participants a solid understanding of what they need to do, before to do before financial investment in a business launch. Register for the LEO Start Your Own Business Programme on

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