Arne Gockeln

How I find and validate business ideas as a solopreneur

Written by Arne in solopreneurship , tagged with business, idea, keyword, solopreneur

To be honest? I have so many business and product ideas that I already filled a database with it.

Give me a little challenge or puzzle to solve and my brain goes into creativity mode, producing one idea after another.

The problem is, if you jump from business idea to business idea you will never make it to a successful business. This is something that I have learned the hard way. Having multiple ideas is a gift, and it’s great, but you have to decide and focus on one simple idea to make it happen!

The main question is: What idea to focus on?

In the next few lines I want to show you how I validate if an idea is a good one and has some potential or if I can discard it.

Table of Contents

1. The Topic

First I look at myself and ask the question: What am I able to do, what others could need?

I am a software developer. I can build software. Building software is everything I always wanted to do. But, after two decades in building Web and SaaS software as a freelancer working for clients, I feel like I need something new.

So I digged a bit deeper and asked myself: What kind of software do you want to build? What is my passion?

I wand to build my own Mac Apps.

Ok, good. Now we have something to work with. But there are millions of Apps out there. I need to clarify what kind of Mac Apps and for whom am I building it? So who is my user? Who will buy my apps in the end?

2. The User

First of all, I am the user. I have some cases where an app can be very useful or where I am missing features in other apps. The chance is very high that others are having the same pain.

Personally I don’t like SaaS (Software as a Service). I like to use Mac Apps for this and that task, which is installed on my computer. Paid once for lifetime and not having multiple abonnements. Apps that work offline, because I am traveling a lot and want to work while being offline. I want to be able to access all project data regardless of where I am. On a ship, in an airplane, on the train, in a camper van, on a remote island, at the airport where the wifi sucks ;)

Every Solopreneur or startup founder uses some tools and methods to organize himself, to validate, to analyze and to create something.

This is the main topic and has room for a lot of product ideas.

To summarize it in one sentence: I am building Apps for Solo Entrepreneurs and Startup Founders who wants to work everywhere, designed and built exclusively for Mac.

3. The App Idea

As I now know who my user will be, I need an app idea. I am using Kanban Boards for my project management and for almost any other task too, like planning my blog posts, my social media accounts, my software development, my travel plans. Everything. There are good products like Trello, or linear. But all of them are SaaS. Also they are missing some features which I find very useful, like organizing bigger projects in multiple boards categorized in folders.

So this is my first idea: Building a kanban project management app with some extended features.

4. The Market

Let’s check if someone else is looking for it. Hello Google :).

SEO Research

I am using Google auto-suggest to see what people are searching for and if the search volume for the keywords are high enough. Possible keywords to start are like this

  • project management
  • project management software
  • project management macos
  • project management macosx
  • project management app
  • project management mac app
  • project management os x app
  • kanban app
  • kanban app for personal use
  • kanban mac
  • kanban app mac
  • kanban board mac
  • kanban software mac
  • kanban board app mac

I am repeating this for about 100 keywords. You get the idea.

Google Project Management Auto Suggest

Google Kanban App Auto Suggest

Having all these keywords I use to get the volume for each keyword. You can use Google Keyword Planner for free as well, but you will not get the real search volume!! The data provided by the Google Keyword Planner is only relevant for advertising through Google.

Seobility Keyword Research Result

As you can see, the green highlighted rows showing good results, because the search volume is above 1000/month and there are less competitors (German words: “mittel” = middle and “niedrig” = low).

App Store Research

So there is a chance to get customers through SEO and SEA. What about the Mac App Store?

Unfortunately the real search volume is not available from Apple. The tools available, like, are only estimating this value. So the only thing we can do is to find good keywords and get our own data through testing.

Keyword auto suggests from are:

  • kanban
  • kanban board
  • kanban flow
  • kanbana
  • kanbanier
  • kanban tool
  • kanban light

At least there are already some Apps. Which is good, because if there is already a market you do not have to establish it. Just provide a solution which is better, faster, easier to use, etc.

5. Validation

How can we validate if the product idea is something the users really want?

A good way is to build a landing page for it bevor building the product. You put some information and maybe screenshots or a video on it and a call to action button (CTA). The CTA opens a window where you explain that the product is not finished yet, but the prospect would be able to buy the product as an early bird or to enter their email address to be on a waiting list. This way you can see how high the demand is.

The last step would be to build the real product and ship or release to the customer. Or to decide, that this is not the right product to build and move on to something else. Repeating the above steps.