Side Checks Podcast

How To Know If Your Side Hustle Idea Will Work

March 6, 2023

I'm Amy! I'm a small business educator who got hooked on entrepreneurship after starting a cleaning business in college. Since my Clorox days, I've built many businesses. I've sold businesses. And I've helped small business owners do the same.


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Gaining Proof of Concept To Validate Any Side Hustle Idea

When starting a new side hustle, a common question is asked, “will this actually work?”. In fact, many of us don’t start our businesses due to this question. We want assurance that our hard work will pay off and that it will be worth it. However, the truth of the matter is that we never know if our side hustle idea will work. We cannot predict the future. But we can enter into business with confidence by gaining proof of concept for our side hustle. This episode will walk you through doing just that.

What Is Proof of Concept?

Proof of concept is the #1 tool you should enter into business with. Especially if you’re a new business owner. Or if your business is less common, like these 15 niche Etsy shop ideas. According to Oxford Languages, proof of concept is evidence, typically derived from an experiment or pilot project, which demonstrates that a design concept, business proposal, etc. is feasible.

In other words, proof of concept is the method by which you can gather strong evidence that your business model can work. Proof of concept will tell you that your business is desired and people are willing to exchange money for your offer. It’s important that proof of concept delivers both of these facts, not just one.

There are three major ways we can dive into gaining proof of concept for your side hustle. It’s important that we look at all methods and apply as much of them to our business as we can.

  • Look at others already doing it
  • Ask/poll your ideal avatar
  • give away a freebie to test interest

Let’s walk through each method. Be sure to note what methods, if not all, you can apply to your business idea. Gaining proof of concept is the number one thing we want to do before proceeding into business, refining our offers, and sliding our marketing strategy.

01. Look At Others Already In The Business

The first thing you want to do to see if your side hustle idea will work through gaining proof of concept is to look at others already doing it. Find competitors inside your industry that are doing your idea or something similar. This may be scary or discouraging. However keep in mind that no matter if someone is already doing it, they aren’t doing it as you will. So the world is yet to see your offer, just like you would deliver it.

Observe what’s working well for your competitors. Observe any downsides you see or opportunities where you can serve differently or better. Read customer reviews to see where satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) is throughout their experience. And if able and not infringing, talk with someone from the industry to gain even more insight.

02. Poll A Sample Group

The second method for gaining proof of concept for knowing if your side hustle idea will work is to poll a sample group. By this, you want to get very clear about who your ideal avatar is. And to do that, you must first get very clear about what your offer it. Get as detailed as possible so you can understand clearly who your audience is.

After understanding who your audience is, it’s important to them connect with them. Gaining proof of concept for your side hustle idea can be as simple as asking your ideal audience if your offer is something that desires AND if they would be willing to pay for it. Present your offer and have them give you any and all feedback. This will help you gain proof of concept and offer refinement.

Keep in mind, this shouldn’t be a sales pitch. You want to use your ideal audience during this phase for gathering as much information rather than selling. You also don’t want to ask them about pricing. Consumers shouldn’t lead with benchmark pricing, the industry should. Consumers can influence from there.

Consider these events for getting in front of your ideal avatar:

  • virtual meetings
  • in-person coffee/tea gatherings
  • In-person live demonstrations

03. Give Away A Sample or Freebie To Test Interest

My final method for seeing if your side hustle idea will work through proof of concept is by giving away samples. Create freebies or lead magnets for your side hustle that gives your ideal audience a taste of your paid offer. Your offer should be related to and representative of your paid offer as much as possible.

By seeing how often your free sample(s) is consumed, you will be able to make an educated assumption that your paid offer is desired. You can even use freebies to test various offers and see even further where interests are. Create a representative freebie for each offer from your side hustle idea. Seeing what focuses the free content is mostly absorbed around can tell you where there could be interest for paid content.

Keep in mind, this method and the methods above should be centered around your ideal avatar, not friends and family. Only your ideal avatar can provide true proof of concept.

My First Attempt at Gaining Proof of Concept

When I started pet photography, I knew immediately that I wanted to gain proof of concept for the business to tell if the idea would even work. Like many other entrepreneurs, I wanted to make sure my efforts were worth it. I posted on Facebook that I was giving away sessions to build my portfolio for this business. I explained why I wanted to start the business and what it would offer.

From this post, I had hundreds of replies for people wanting this free mini-session with them and their dogs. At this time, I thought this was proof of concept. In fact, I thought was hitting the lottery by proving my business model could work. Unfortunately, I only proved that the business was desired by people. I failed to prove if people were willing to pay for it.

What I did right:

  • I found a niche business
  • I asked partially my ideal audience
  • I found a creative way to give away samples
  • I gained proof of concept that the idea was desired

What I did wrong:

  • I failed to monetize
  • I didn’t use these sessions to grow my business, just my portfolio & experience
  • I didn’t gain proof of concept that people were willing to pay

In this episode, I talk a lot about this experience because it’s one I have truly learned a lot from. In the episode I walk through what I would do differently in this situation to gain proper proof of concept for my side hustle idea.

If You Don’t Have Proof of Concept:

Use these methods to better understand if your side hustle idea can work. Of course, there are other factors into making a business truly work. However, it all starts with proof of concept. If after working through these steps, you don’t feel like you’ve gained proof of concept, observe your offer again.

Your offer should identify a problem (or desire), should offer a solution, and should be offered to the right person. If you haven’t gained proof of concept, consider these three main areas and where the concept isn’t there; the problem, the solution (your offer), and the avatar.

Sometimes proof of concept comes by adjusting our offer or adjusting your audience.

How To Get Started Today

Wild ideas are amazing. And they should be pursued. If you have a creative side hustle idea that you want to launch, don’t hesitate. The question of “will this actually work?” doesn’t need to stand in your way. And now you have 3 methods for answering that question before you dive in.

You deserve to start any business with confidence. And proof of concept can help you get there. To know if your side hustle idea will work, observe the people already doing it, poll your ideal avatar, and test your concept by seeing interest in free versions.

Want to start making more of your time when it comes to your business? Take my free workshop Life-Proof Your Side Hustle to put a forever end to not knowing what to work on, and when.

I'm Amy Schmidt

Hi there!

I'm a small business cheerleader, strategist, and course creator who loves seeing others earn income in unconventional ways. I started a cleaning business in college and have side hustled since, selling my latest part-time business for $151,000.


I'm Amy Schmidt, your new business strategist!

I'm a small business development and sales strategist who loves seeing others earn income in unconventional ways. I started a cleaning business in college and have side hustled since, selling my latest part-time business for $151,000

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