How do you know if your startup will be successful? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Leigh Thompson, serial entrepreneur turned serious entrepreneur turned lighthearted entrepreneur, on Quora:

You know your startup will be successful when you validate your idea before starting it up!

To say there's no way to know if a startup will be successful is untrue. Some people assume success means to be the best in the industry, up to the standards of a Facebook, or a Whatsapp.

If success means to provide enough value to enough people to generate a profit, then yes, you can absolutely identify if your startup will be successful early on. Read on to find out how.

By the way, Pat Flynn has a new book called Will It Fly? This is much more in depth on the subject than I'll go into here, but if you like my answer, consider giving it a read.

Essentially, validating a business is proving that your idea will work before spending time and money creating that business.

Before coming to me, my last three consulting clients all spent over $15,000 to build a website, produce a product or content, and then market it. Unfortunately, all they did is waste their time and money. They spent all of that only to find no one wanted to buy what they were offering.

I hear all the time, "But people loved my idea and thought the idea would be great." Here's the problem with starting a business because other people thought it was "great": People are nice (usually), but their words aren't enough to get an accurate idea of whether a business will work or not. Here's an example of what I mean.

  • You (talking to a group of friends and family): "Hey guys, I came up with this idea to sell padded pens so you can write longer and more comfortably! I'd sell them for $15 each. What do you think, would you consider buying them?"
  • Them: "Definitely, we love it! What a great idea! You're going to sell millions!!!"

This is where most people feel like they've validated their ideas and now go about wasting time and money creating it. Expanding on the scenario, here's what it would look like to actually validate the idea.

  • You: "Oh, that's so great to hear! I actually have the first batch in my car now, I'll go and get them. Who wanted to buy my padded pens for $15 again?"
  • Them (any combination of): Crickets. "Oh, I don't have money on me now ... I need to check with X first ... I don't need a padded pen ... etc."

If you went about starting your business half way through the above conversation, you risk wasting time, energy, and money. Imagine instead, you finished the above conversation and found out no one wanted to buy your idea. That's ok. You could ask them why, ask what they would buy and then "pivot" to a better idea that people would pay for.

There are hundreds of simple, cheap, or free and fast ways of validating a business. In this day and age, that is the best way to start a business.

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