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7 Ways to Protect and Test Your New Business Idea

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I invented something that I think has potential to become a business. What is one thing I should not forget to do?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

A. Patent It

2014-03-12-FehzanAli.jpgIf your invention is something you can patent, patent it early on. Intellectual property is important and protects your invention. It could also protect you from patent trolls, attract investors and ultimately have a positive effect when selling the company. If you're in it for the long haul, it's a no-brainer. However, it's something startups frequently fail to think of in the beginning stages.
- Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC

A. File Your 83(b) Election on Time

2014-03-12-BrennanWhite.pngI've seen more than one friend miss the filing date on the 83(b) election, which ended up costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars. Make sure you understand what this is and act immediately upon receiving stock in a company.
- Brennan White, Watchtower

A. See If It's Already Out There

2014-03-12-HeatherLopes.jpgAs you move forward with your idea or invention, the last thing you want to hear from a potential investor, customer or partner is, "Have you heard of XYZ? They're already doing this." It's never too early to get to know your competitive landscape and make a plan to set yourself apart.
- Heather Lopes, EarlyShares

A. Test the Market

2014-03-12-AdamRoot.jpgAn easy way to test the market is to set up a few pay-per-click ads on Google Adwords and send the traffic to a landing page (you can use Unbounce to create a free page). Then, ask the visitors to fill out an email contact form. If you get a lot of email addresses, you know you have a good idea and should pursue it further. If you don't get emails addresses, come up with another idea.
- Adam Root, Hiplogiq

A. Protect Your Intellectual Property

2014-03-12-AndyKaruza.jpgIf you invented something, you should do whatever you can to protect the intellectual property. Test the market with a few closed-door customers or users, and then get a patent. The upfront costs of a patent are large, but they far outweigh the consequences of having your idea ripped off by a larger company after you prove the market. Make them buy you out instead!
- Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee

A. Look for Competitors

2014-03-12-SethTalbott.jpgI generally approach new ideas with the assumption that something similar has already been tried before, so I focus a lot of my attention on looking at previous failures and potential competitors. Why did they fail and what are current competitors doing now that I can defend against? If I find success with my business, can I maintain my lead against a better-financed competitor?
- Seth Talbott, CEO and Startup Advisor

A. Evaluate the Market Size

2014-03-12-LukeSkurman.jpgThe biggest difference between a big and small business is market size. It's so difficult to get a business off the ground that you should have a large market waiting for you on the other side. Targeting a market with 100 million people is almost the same amount of difficulty as targeting a market with one million people, so you may as well go for the biggest possible market size.
- Luke Skurman, Niche.com

A. Get Real Feedback

2014-03-31-PatrickConley.jpgYour friends and family will probably support your idea even if it's not so great. Find real people who are target customers for your idea, and see if they will actually buy it before you build it. You can use strategies like this to raise some early money from real customers who will help you make your product better than you ever could without their feedback.
- Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

A. Obtain Trademarks

2014-03-31-EvrimOralkan.jpgIf you have invented something, I will assume you're applying for a patent. What you should not forget to do is obtain as many trademarks as possible relevant to your invention and field. These could be marketing slogans and product names. Moreover, make sure to get related domains as soon as you have a chance.
- Evrim Oralkan, Travertine Mart

A. Execute!

2014-03-31-JanisKrums.jpgNo seriously -- start working on rolling out the business ASAP. Over the last few years, I've witnessed too many people with good ideas waste time writing a detailed business plan only to never get the idea off the ground. Do the minimum you need to do to prove you actually have a real business. Get some customers; get feedback.
- Janis Krums, OPPRTUNITY

A. Make Your Early Users Happy

2014-03-31-AndrewFayad.jpgYour invention may have all types of applications, but it’s important to focus on the application(s) for the set of users you’ll make very happy -- enough to create buzz around your product or service and get customers to eventually pay you.
- Andrew Fayad, eLearning Mind

A. Focus on Sales

2014-03-31-ThomasCullen.jpgGet sales. Do whatever it takes to collect revenue. This process will validate your invention and get you on the road to making it a successful product.
- Thomas Cullen, LaunchPad Lab