Did you know that the average human has 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day? I only discovered this today only because I don’t really think about how much I actually think. This was sparked by a presentation I attended earlier this morning on business ideas and validation by Dave Newman, one of the organizers of Perth’s biggest meetup group called Morning Startup.

If you’re anything like me, you have a few business ideas running through your mind and just not enough time to work on them while they’re still fresh. But what really motivates us to develop something that’s just an idea into something worth pursuing?

Dave’s topic was interesting because just a few days ago in my previous blog post,“Targeted Marketing: Understanding your ideal clients” I mentioned the exact tools he recommended today as well for you to validate your ideas. This emphasises the importance of constantly using these tools throughout your business model, from the idea stage through to your online marketing strategy, and constantly re-evaluating them to make sure your business is still valid.

So what are these tools?

The first one, which is where all entrepreneurs must begin is creating a Lean Canvas. You can do this on Leanstack (suggested at Morning Startup). The other sites I also know of for creating a lean canvas are Canvanizer and Lean Monitor. After you’ve brought your idea to life, you can continue using Google Alerts and Google trends to find out if there is a market for your idea.

I can’t dwell on the above tools in one blog post as I have already mentioned them before, but I want to highlight the importance of social networking in this process of validating your business idea. I spend a lot of time doing market research online and it’s given me some pretty accurate feedback on both personal and professional projects. Social Media is such an under-utilized tool in all areas and in all industries not only for what I do, and people need to stop saying they don’t know much about it and start investing time learning about it. It will eventually save you lots of money on advertising if done right.

Here are a few reasons why social networking is so important and how it can even help you validate a few of your ideas.

1. You get to see your target market, up close and personal.
Part of what makes marketing online so cool is the interaction you get to have with your customer base. You can read their status updates to get insights into their daily lives, (and maybe adjust your marketing strategy as a result).
2. Your competition is Tweeting and Facebooking like crazy.
The early bird gets the worm, and the sooner you start being active on social media, the sooner you can start gaining a ton of fans and followers.
3. People are receptive to your messages.
People view Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook feeds as types of social networks, not marketing machines. As a result, they’re less likely to see what you post as an advertisement but a conversation they can engage with too, and will be more likely to hear what you have to say.
4. You will find customers you didn’t know existed.
If you follow specific keywords (or hashtags), you can find people who are looking for the products you sell and then direct them to your site. Using Twitter and Instagram for marketing is great that way. Telling people who want your product or services how to get in touch with your company is just a short post away.
5. Customers you didn’t know existed will find (and buy from) you.
In the process of marketing online, you’ll probably join a ton of groups related to your products, industry and customer base. By posting links in these groups, you’ll help influence customers to check out your site. Post a link today, and two weeks later you might see a sale from it.
6. It’s free. How can you argue with that?

If you handle your own social media management, running a social networking campaign is as cheap as it gets. If you hire a social media manager or digital marketing agency, it will cost you, but it’ll be an investment that you’ll be likely to see a return on. If you’re intimidated by interacting with people online or your writing skills aren’t great, hiring an online PR agency is definitely the way to go. Posting poorly written content or conveying the wrong kind of messages on social networking sites can seriously affect your digital PR presence.
7. The social media marketing arena is a (fairly) level playing field.
Unlike the brick and mortar world where you need to have a budget to run traditional ad campaigns, all companies start off on pretty equal footing when it comes to social media marketing. The people who thrive and go viral in cyberspace are the people with the most clever, attention grabbing tactics and the most useful content.
To make your business idea a full on reality, you’re going to have to outwit, out-network and out-write your competition, while offering superior customer service.
Isn’t that what business is all about, anyway?

To make your business idea a full on reality, you’re going to have to outwit, outnetwork and outwrite your competition while offering superior customer service. Isn’t that what business is all about, anyway?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Ps. Morning Startup is a fortnightly event held at Spacecubed in Perth.