When developing a start-up business, you should always be pushing yourself to sell your service before you’re ready. If you feel like you’re ready… then it means you probably spent too much or waited too long. When selling a start-up idea, you need your customers to believe in the outcome of your service before they have to believe in your ability to deliver on it. If the outcome has value, then how you deliver it can change & iterate while you seek the best ROI.
Thankfully, there are several low risk tools for entrepreneurs to use as they test various concepts. Generally, these all allow people to build a test of the concept before investing further. The three legs of the MVP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_viable_product) start-up business are: Website, Payment, and Customer Service. If you have these three, you can bring a customer through to a sale.
Website design sites & payments sites are commonplace. Using SquareSpace.com or UnBounce.com you can easily build a platform to test ideas. And setting up a PayPal account is very simple for any transactions you may encounter.
But what about Customer Service? How do you MVP a customer service experience?
Many entrepreneurs can’t take time away from their day jobs to answer customer requests, and cold calling takes a tremendous amount of endurance. One option is to use inbound or outbound call services that provide a resource to answer or place calls for you (www.AllUptime.com). This solution helps you scale an idea without committing to the effort of hiring someone from craigslist or convincing family members to answer the phone in a certain way.
Think about what you could do with a website, a payment service, and someone to be ready to answer a customer call. With that, you can be ready to sell a complete idea for less than $50.