Starting a small business in the contemporary environment of the 21st century is vastly different from what it used to be barely a few decades back.
Long gone are the days when picking up a general business idea and implementing it half-heartedly while hoping for the best was enough to make your company moderately successful.
Currently promoted market models are viciously Darwinian in their nature, reminiscent more of an overgrown jungle where every inhabitant is a perfectly designed predator in search of vulnerable prey rather than an orderly sea of numbers and wise decisions many still envision.
To enter such a charnel house lined with lost opportunities and failed dreams with barely a half-baked idea is madness.
Such an insane state of affairs means that prospective business owners, no matter whether they want to create yet another E-commerce retail store, dropshipping business, or perhaps PR firm Pennsylvania, at the very least, need to be completely sure of their business model to even stand a chance.
Confirming its viability, however, is not something one can do on their own, unless it’s a franchise model of a business. We have covered some franchises you can start under $1000, and in these cases, you already know these businesses work and have their concept built out.
You Are Not Omnipotent
Even the most astute and clever of potential entrepreneurs need an external insight to iron out any problematic aspects of their business plan that might have escaped their notice.
Just as you don’t know everything about each part of running a business, such as creating social media campaigns, paying taxes (in which case you might want to learn how to file taxes with last pay stub), or managing finances, you’ll have blind spots when it comes to creating a business plan as well.
Asking your friends and family can help in this regard, but even then, the pool of respondents might be too small and less than ideal in terms of its market analysis capabilities.
Choosing the Paid Option Might Not Be the Best Idea
On the other hand, using the services of a reputable market analysis company will get you the data necessary to formulate a valid business plan, but most likely cost you an arm and a leg – something you should try to avoid, given that all those resources spent on such aid might be necessary later on.
Fortunately for You, Third Time’s a Charm
There is a reliable way of validating your business ideas via a vast group of respondents without you spending a cent on it.
Take the old Latin proverb, ‘The voice of the people is the voice of God’ to heart and find a popular online forum that is thematically compatible with your business ideas.
In this regard, no website is superior to…
Widely accepted as one of the biggest Internet-based discussion sites to ever exist, Reddit can be accurately summed up as an enormous aggregate of vastly different subforums (called subreddits), united only in the dedication of their users.
From cute cats to science-oriented content to a bastion of rebellious small-time stock exchange investors, hell-bent on fighting the Wall Street – Reddit has it all.
Each day, uncounted thousands post everything, ranging from memes, marital counsel ideas to scientific papers and advice on efficient communication channels (sounds interesting? You can learn what is UCaaS here), with most posts garnering a number of insightful comments.
It is these comments and the content that might be worth its weight in gold to you.
Each day, uncounted thousands post everything, ranging from memes, marital counsel ideas to scientific papers and advice on efficient communication channels with most posts garnering a number of insightful comments.
It is these comments and the content that might be worth its weight in gold to you.
What you need to do is fairly simple. Without further ado, let’s start with the most basic step.
Make an Account
Reddit is most definitely a complicated site, but the registration process sure is not.
Anyone can set up an account on Reddit. It takes only a few minutes and is absolutely free of charge.
You can always check out Reddit’s official guide on how to create a new account if you are not sure how to go about it, but we detail the process here as well for your convenience.
The first thing you need to do is to choose a username. This will be your identity on Reddit, displayed over each of your posts.
The username must be unique and should never contain any personal information such as your real name or age.
After all, this is the Internet, and the risks of someone using such information against you are high.
Your username can be completely random or tied to your interests; it’s your preference.
Bear in mind, however, that once chosen, usernames can’t be changed or reused if you delete your account.
Afterward, you need to create a password. Here, you should make sure it’s different from the ones for your important accounts and that it’s long enough.
Next, you will need to enter your email address so that Reddit can, firstly, verify your account and, secondly, contact you if you notify them of any problems with your account.
Be advised that, like most modern websites these days, Reddit allows you to sign up with a Google account or an Apple one – if you have one of these, consider choosing this option.
When all the information has been entered, click submit, and your account will be created.
Once you have a Reddit account, you can proceed to the interesting parts.
Find The Subreddits That Match Thematically Your Business Ideas
Reddit has countless subreddits, created for all sorts of purposes. Finding one that fits your business idea is not difficult but requires some patience and dedication.
If nothing useful shows up after a few tries, repeat the process with a different approach: instead of searching for subreddits that directly deal with the topic of your business idea, try expanding your search effort for ones that are thematically related to it.
To illustrate the point using an example of dogs, while r/HuskyMedicalIssues certainly doesn’t exist, you can try to find help at the next best thing – r/husky.
The site is vast, and finding a subreddit that suits your needs might take a while, but it will be worth the time invested.
To give you a helping hand at correctly identifying the subreddits relevant to the matter at hand, here are the characteristics that often determine the quality of a business-related subreddit:
In other words, this is the number of all users subscribed to a given sub.
Bear in mind that while the bigger size can influence your likelihood of getting a massed response, it doesn’t have to.
Smaller ones can have higher engagement simply due to the fact that fewer posts appear at the same time.
Despite the global reach of Reddit, some subs can be naturally dominated by US-based members, so keep that in mind if you’re not an American citizen.
Some business-oriented subreddits are naturally very open to all kinds of commerce-related questions.
Unfortunately, there are also those that might delete your post for an infringement on some rules. Generally, the higher the quality of a sub, the stricter the rules, but more on that later on.
Below you’ll find a short list of subreddits we consider best suited to validating your business ideas.
Perhaps one of the biggest, enterprise-related subreddits in existence, this giant of a forum describes itself as a ‘community of individuals who seek to solve problems, network professionally, collaborate on projects, and make the world a better place.’
It is a true meeting place for business people, small investors, and all those for whom running a private business is a dream come true.
Boasting a user base over a million strong, this might be a perfect place to start your hunt for validation.
Bear in mind, however, that the rules here are very strict, and moderators are very insistent on keeping the quality of the place intact.
Over 700 thousand users strong, this small-company-oriented subreddit is a more relaxed place.
People here tend to reflect on their bad business decisions and celebrate their entrepreneurial successes and milestones.
Just like the r/Entrepreneur, this sub is dominated by US-based users, so a prospective business owner from abroad might have difficulties with getting substantive answers.
As you might have guessed, the rules are relaxed here without hampering the engagement level.
This list couldn’t leave out a subreddit with such a name.
This one is significantly smaller than all of the above, boasting a ‘mere’ 111k of users, however, you shouldn’t judge the book by its cover.
The number of users may be smaller, but one of the advantages of such a small sub is that less content is posted, so yours may be the one to receive the majority of attention at that moment.
If your business idea is not for your main enterprise, consider visiting this smaller sub.
The rules are very relaxed here, so don’t be afraid of asking anything that might come to your mind.
With a population of over 85 thousand, there’s next to no chance that your post will go unanswered!
A Word Of Advice
Before you get to writing your post, be sure to trawl such subreddits for all the info related to your business ideas.
The world is a small place, and chances are some of the users have already devised a scheme similar to yours.
Learning about the response they got may help you reformulate your initial plan and improve it by the time you get to post yours!
Moreover, it will help you determine the ‘climate’ each subreddit has and better adapt your soon-to-be-posted question to it.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the matter.
Formulate Your Business Ideas Into a Precise, High-quality Content and Post It on a Subreddit of Your Choice
When typing in your business ideas, be sure to remember a few things before you hit the posting button.
Subreddits Can Be Crazy About Their Rules Regarding Posts
Users on Reddit are quite strict about the rules of the site. This is because they want to keep it a place where everyone feels safe to share their thoughts and ideas in a most productive manner.
Every subreddit has its own rules, which vary from being light-hearted (such as posting cat pictures for r/aww) to rather strict (such as not allowing any sort of insults on the most extreme ones).
It is your responsibility to know these rules. If anyone reports your post as inappropriate, the moderators will delete it and, in extreme cases, even ban you from the subreddit permanently – something that fortunately happens very rarely but is definitely not what you want to happen.
Some of the more widespread rules present in many of the subreddits include::
- Do not post links to your businesses, as that might be considered self-promotion, and get your post deleted.
- Do not overuse all caps in your posts.
- Do not post personal information about yourself or other people unless specifically allowed by the moderation team. Doing otherwise might get you banned.
On Some Subreddits, Your Language Can Be Important
Remember the ‘climate’ part discussed above? Each subreddit has a unique one. Some of the subreddits are not that dissimilar from a neighborly chat, while others like the aforementioned r/Entrepreneur can be quite demanding in terms of the tone of the posts. One of the rules there states explicitly, ‘As a professional subreddit, we expect our community to maintain reasonable decorum. We expect you to treat fellow Entrepreneurs like you would a co-worker.’ That implies any swear words or a language too informal might be frowned upon.
In general, it might be best to try to write in a professional, cordial tone. Such an approach makes your post naturally easier to read and prevents any potential prejudice, resulting in the users being more willing to help you out, as they will take you more seriously.
Content Quality Matters A Lot
You might be surprised, but some studies suggest that contrary to expectations, longer content is actually fairly accepted and encouraged on the Internet.
Reddit reflects that entirely. Some of the posts with the highest number of upvotes on business-related subreddits have upwards of 1000 words, with some exceeding even the 2000 mark.
The reason for that is simple.
People flock to the more serious subreddits not to have a chat about the quality of their coffee but to exchange ideas concerning their passions.
After all, Reddit is often one of the first places where some scientists post the results of their research.
Using a thematically related picture might be a good choice for gathering attention, but the absolute priority should be on the quality of your post – the more substantive, the better.
A small word of advice.
Try to avoid a wall of text – rather, break the individual parts into shorter paragraphs so that those on mobile devices can have an easier time reading about your business ideas.
Now that your post has finally been composed and sent, you need to wait a bit before you can partake in the next part.
Engage in Discussions With Other Users in the Comments Under Your Post
After some time, it is only natural that a few or more users will find your business ideas intriguing/ridiculous enough to comment on them.
Talk to them. If someone doubts the viability of your idea, explain your point of view and reassure them why it is going to work.
If someone else asks for additional information about something you wrote in your initial post, be sure to provide it.
After all, you can get accurate answers only if the data given to your commenters is accurate and true.
Remember to be open-minded.
While it’s understandable that you want to defend your business ideas with all your heart, it might turn out that in some regards, they are wrong and bound to fail.
After all, as mentioned above, we are not omnipotent. Even the smartest and well-adapted of people do make mistakes.
If so, ask your commenter how he would salvage the part he considers wrong.
Then, after you get an answer, analyze it yourself and try to look for any blatant misconceptions. If there’s none, it might be worth incorporating!
Validating your business ideas on Reddit is not as hard as you might think.
While it’s true that some of the subreddits can be quite scary, the truth is, all these people are just passionate about their respective fields.
Ultimately, Reddit is the true personification of the ‘by the people, for the people’ mentality. Respect their customs and prove to them that you’re serious by writing high-quality posts, and they should respect you for that, answering in kind with immensely helpful comments.
In the end, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. After all, for all its complexity and the insane wealth of information available, Reddit is completely free. There is simply no harm in trying.