Validate Your Business Idea With A Broken Website

How to Validate Your Business Idea with a Broken Website

There are plenty of people you’ll encounter throughout your life that will enthusiastically support your ideas. If you pitch your thoughts on some sort of business service or product to someone face-to-face, it’s common courtesy to get a high five in return along with something to the tune of “yeah, I’d totally buy that!”, “everybody needs that” or “you’re going to be a millionaire!”

Actually ask them to cough up the cash though and you’ll start to hear the excuses roll in as they slink back into the shadows hoping not to be noticed. Talk is cheap, but launching a new business certainly isn’t. The compliments feel good and it’s natural to seek them out, but they’re a façade. Reality is when people actually put up their money.

But how do you validate a business idea if it’s just an idea? How do you sell something that doesn’t exist?

One creative way to do this is to put up a website complete with a “Buy Now” button. The costs of putting together a website are minuscule compared to the costs in time and money to develop the business idea.


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Companies like Wix or Squarespace offer unique domains, e-commerce web hosting, and easily customizable templates that can get you up and running in just days or weeks for less than $50/month. The tools offer WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editing with no coding required. If DIY website creation just isn’t your speed, check out freelance services like Fiverr or UpWork to find experienced designers willing to take on the task without breaking the bank.

When customers click the order button on your site, it starts to signal that they’re interested in what you are offering.  Careful though.  This is the digital equivalent of the cheap praise and high five.  Statistics gathered on checkout abandonment rates are likely much higher than you might expect.  Studies like this one from Baynard Instituteshow that an average of nearly 70% of online orders are abandoned before the final purchase is submitted.  There are a variety of reasons for why this happens, but it really doesn’t matter why.  The only revenues that actually exist (or will actually exist) are from completed transactions.  You don’t need fairytales; you need to count the completed transactions.  The ones where someone actually pulls out their wallet, types in their credit card number, and clicks “submit order”.

This is in no way a suggestion or endorsement to collect money from people without delivering a product.  That’s fraud and that’s wrong.  Do not do that.

That final “submit order” button will be a fake.  The only thing it will do is load an error page.  In fact, the whole order form will be a fake.  You aren’t going to be actually collecting money or credit card information.  You just allow a potential customer to feel like they’re going through the full process and measuring how many orders you can plan on.  The error page can simply show an error or acknowledge that things aren’t quite ready yet.  Maybe even ask for an email address to notify them when they can make the real purchase.

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Set a minimum threshold of how many you would need in order to support the investments of time and money to build the product and publish the site to see what you get.  This is a good way to begin testing.

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