Test your idea, product or service before you launch

A good idea is a clever solution to a problem; one that an entrepreneur has never heard of before, says Paul Arden, a marketing guru and former creative director at the vast Saatchi and Saatchi advertising agency.

Arden says: "An idea has no value if it is not used. If it is lying in a drawer, it is useless; worse than useless, it is a waste of space."

He says ideas have to be applied before they are recognised as good.

"Even a bad idea that is executed is better than a good idea that is not used."

So you are convinced you have an idea. But how do you differentiate between good and bad business ideas?

You need to have your idea evaluated - the product, market and economics of your business idea need to be tested. Start by asking yourself questions about your product.

What is the market for my product and what problem does my product or service solve for prospective clients? How big is the market?

How will buying or using my product or service benefit the customer compared with what that person is using now? What are the developments costs of the product?

What is the promise I am making to the client? Is this product or service what the client wants or am I just speculating about the needs?

You have to be sure about this or else you will be stuck with a product no one wants.

Be truthful when making a promise to a prospective client, . This will save you from embarrassment. Make sure that what the customer sees is what the customer gets. What is promised is what the customer gets.

Find out if the product or service is available in the market and what alternatives are available for you to exploit. You must determine what sets your product or service apart from the rest.

Is your product versatile enough to be able to move with the times without affecting profitability?

We live in a world of constant change so it is advisable to check if your product can survive the test of time.

Would you be able to take advantage of existing products? Can the product stand up to the competitors' products?

When Kodak realised digital cameras were taking it out of business, it did not take a back seat. It joined the digital revolution.

You also need to be careful about naming your service, product or company. The name helps determine if customers remember your product.

Is the name easy to articulate? Does it say what you want it to say? How memorable is it?

Pricing is crucial. The more expensive your product, the more customers think it is quality. But do not overcharge. Always try to position your product at the top.

The best way to start is to get all the information you can on your product.

Make sure you talk to potential customers, but do not forget to ask questions and listen to what others say.