Farida Yahaya


Please note that every startup’s story is different. However, I’d like you to remember this: “If your products or services are high-quality, solves your target market’s problems and reflects your passion, the probability of achieving a profitable business is high.”

COVID-19 crisis has brought a change in the economic landscape. Like you, a lot of people are thinking of either starting a new business online or pivoting from what they used to do.

Do you have a great idea and want to become a business owner in these times? Just before you dive into it, are you sure that your idea is viable in the market? Before investing in a new business, the most important step to take is to assess your idea’s viability.

From my experience, these are just markers and not the general rules. Today, I’ve compiled a list of idea verification questions you must ask yourself to assess your business’ chances of success.


Have you done a full self-analysis?


Market research doesn’t have much significance if you are not well equipped to meet the demand of the market. This is why self-analysis is important. The questions you should ask must help you dig deeper than the surface and help you develop a plan to build your business as a solution to your target customer’s pain point. Additionally, asking these questions and getting the answers to them would help lay your business foundation.

Below are the examples of questions you should ask yourself before you start talking to others about your business:

  • Why do I want to start a business?
  • What problem does my business solve?
  • Where will I find my target customers?
  • How do I identify them online?
  • What digital skills do I have?
  • What are my business goals?

One go-to method I use and recommend is to write down the answers in a book or journal. This will help solidify your thoughts and serve as blueprints for laying the foundation of your business.

Do You Know Your Competitors?

Every business has competitors, irrespective of whether they are direct or indirect. There are people and brands who have built a strong digital presence long before this crisis, so naturally, customers will trust them.

Identifying your competitors would help you know what they are doing and how your business can stand out from the crowd. Looking at what other businesses in your niche or industry are doing will give you valuable insights into how to run your proposed business without suffering from losses.

A smart business owner should understand other businesses’ strategies and not get too caught up in what its competitors are doing.

Have You Evaluated Your Social Capital?

I’m sure that we all heard the saying, “It takes money to make money”. While the phrase might sound cliché, its meaning still holds till today. But online, social capital built from trust and proof are the currency you will need to build a successful digital brand.

Most times, you’ll use a combination of your personal stories and collaborations with trusted brands to convince customers to buy from you. You must create a digital sales funnel that highlights how the money will be spent and marketing strategies for generating revenue, despite the current times.

Have You Analysed the Pulse of the Market?

One of the best ways to validate your business idea is via your target market. How do you achieve this? The first step is to define or identify your target market. Your target market are people who will be interested in what you have to sell.  After identifying them, the next step is to conduct effective market analysis on a small group (also known as a focus group).

Check out some of the ways you can test your business idea with target customers:

Have a focus group

A focus group consists of a small section of your identified target market that use your products or services and provide feedback. Using focus groups, conducting surveys and interviews show what consumers think about your business idea before you invest in it.

Ask groups on social media

Thanks to the internet and social media, you can seek validation or get people’s opinion about your business idea. From Facebook  groups to WhatsApp and even Telegram, social media practically puts your target market at your fingertips, you can conduct a survey or run a poll to assess people’s general perceptions and if they think you should do anything differently.

Set up a crowdfunding page

If necessary, crowdfunding pages are also great for determining your business idea’s viability. Crowdfunding websites offer more than just investors. You can also gain valuable reactions, observations, and advice from like-minded individuals. Bonus: You might be lucky to find someone who wants to invest in your idea.

Using small groups to test your business idea determines consumer’s impressions about what you have to sell. If the small market tests are successful, there’s a good possibility that your business idea will be accepted by a larger audience.

How do you really know if your business idea is viable?

Unfortunately, while there’s no one way to determine a business success, careful planning, excellent marketing strategies and enough capital to get the business off the ground would go a long way.

Please note that every startup’s story is different. However, I’d like you to remember this: “If your products or services are high-quality, solves your target market’s problems and reflects your passion, the probability of achieving a profitable business is high.”

One last thing, ask yourself these questions:

  • Desirability (target market) — will customers want it badly to buy it?
  • Feasibility — can I build/execute it?
  • Viability —will the profit I will make from it be greater than the expenditure I used to create or build it?

Running a successful business involves being at your best physically, mentally and emotionally. Businesses cannot run effectively if the owners are burnt out.

watched countless guides on how to become a successful startup founder. I have read quite a few myself and imagine my utter shock when the frustration from challenges started weighing heavy. From sleepless nights to anxiety, the way an entrepreneur reacts to failure can sometimes be the real enemy they need to conquer.  While it can be tempting to focus all of your time and attention on your business, it’s also important that you take care of yourself.

Depending on the type of business you run, some of the problems you may have include:

  • Constantly working for long hours to get your business off the ground or meet your business’ demands.
  • Partaking in business-related activities such as the creation of products, replying business emails and having business calls – all of which blurs the boundaries between your home and work.
  • Feeling lonely due to the absence of someone to share business ideas or problems with. Or the inability to have someone who understands the demands of being an entrepreneur.
  • Having multiple roles as well as managing the additional demands of running a business.
  • Dealing with responsibilities such as family financial issues.

Early Warning Signs

It’s important to be aware of some of the common signs and symptoms that let you know that you may be struggling with your mental health.

Some of the early warning signs include:

  • Lack of concentration;
  • Tiredness/Fatigue;
  • Unnecessary emotional response/ crying;
  • Easily angry or frustrated;
  • Inability or difficulty with making decisions;
  • Avoiding social situations; and
  • Drinking alcohol as a coping mechanism.

While being an entrepreneur seems exciting – you’re pursuing a passion, being your own boss, making money and working on your schedule; however, the responsibilities that come with the role isn’t easy.

The following are tips to help you enjoy good mental health without compromising your health.

Acknowledge your mental health above everything else

Running a business is a full-time job. Running a successful business involves being at your best physically, mentally and emotionally. Businesses cannot run effectively if the owners are burnt out.

One rule of the thumb is to dedicate an amount of time for you. It could be as simple as reading a book, drawing, making crafts or listening to music. Learn to relax and involve in activities that would make you happier and relieve your stress.

Learn how to ask for help

Many times, people compare asking for help as a show of weakness.  For example, letting someone know that you’re unable to manage your workload isn’t a show of weakness.

And as a business owner myself, I know that the last thing you want is for your employees to know that you’re struggling emotionally or feeling overwhelmed. However, the longer you try to cover it up and overcompensate, the worse it will end up. As doubtful as it sounds, asking for help is a show of strength. Acknowledging your limits and taking the right steps to overcome them is an attribute of a strong leader,

Avoid unhealthy comparison

Social media would have us believe everyone is living their best lives; travelling, buying property, running successful businesses. The line between reality and perception is becoming increasingly blurred, and when you’re having a bad day, this can make you feel incredibly bad about yourself

Comparison on social media is unavoidable, and psychological research has shown that this kind of comparison leads to a list of mental health concerns. Thinking that you’re the only person struggling with your workload or not having reached this [often imaginary] level of success can lead to self-doubt, anxiety, and even depression.

Because social media also allows us to network, connect with our peers and customers, and take our businesses to a global level, it’s impossible to disconnect from it altogether. Managing the amount of time you spend on it and the type of things you do while online is crucial to your mental well-being.

Create a balanced, healthy lifestyle

This one may seem obvious, but sleep deprivation, poor diet, and lack of exercise are just as bad for your mental health as physical. Though it may be difficult in the fast-paced startup life, committing to these important daily activities can be the deciding factor in whether your business fails or succeeds.

Force yourself to go to sleep by a certain time every night so that you’re getting the right amount of sleep and also getting your body into a healthy habit.

Make sure to set aside even 30 minutes of time a day to get in some quick cardio or a short one-hour class at the gym. And don’t neglect your diet! It doesn’t take much effort to take care of yourself, and the benefits are quite literally life-saving.

About Farida

Farida Yahya is the Founder of Lumo Naturals, an Abuja-based natural haircare solutions brand that provides a combination of natural products, techniques, artistic styles and education about African hair and the importance of healthy and natural hair to natural hair owners. She is also the founder of The Brief Academy, a learning hub dedicated to developing and supporting female-owned startups to achieving wealth and scalability. Farida is also the author of Redefining Beautiful, a book that discusses the realities of starting a natural hair business. You can connect with Farida Yahya on Instagram via her personal page @thefaridayahya and her business pages @lumonaturals and @thebriefacademy.

Discussing too many ideas is a red flag. For example, saying that your company intends to land one major customer, and then saying that you intend to land ten bigger ones at the same time shows you lack focus. Why? Because investors would rather have you record a huge success on the first one before hopping onto others.

Getting early stage investment can help new and existing startups worry less about short-term issues such as overhead costs, and help to focus on areas such as gaining competitive advantage, customer retention rates and expansion.

However, for entrepreneurs who aren’t savvy at the game, they could make mistakes that could prevent them from getting funds to expand their businesses. As the founder of a growing hair care solutions brand, I have made some of these mistakes in the last 6 years, and I learned these lessons the hard way. So let’s get into those mistakes and how to avoid them in the future.

Lack of Focus
Investors don’t like to waste their time and money. Therefore, when pitching to them to get funding, pass your message across clearly and keep it short and sweet. Additionally, since their main focus is to get returns on their investments, make sure that you explain the strategic plans you’ve put in place that would help you generate leads and bring in revenue. However, don’t make unrealistic claims or say things that aren’t related to the topic.

Likewise, discussing too many ideas is a red flag. For example, saying that your company intends to land one major customer, and then saying that you intend to land ten bigger ones at the same time shows you lack focus. Why? Because investors would rather have you record a huge success on the first one before hopping onto others.

Underestimating Your Competitors
Don’t make the mistake of telling potential investors that your business has no competitors. Saying that automatically translates to telling them that a market for your business doesn’t exist.

No matter the type of products or services you offer, your business has either direct or indirect competitors. For instance, if you intend to produce luxury cutlery and kitchen appliances when no one has, it’s safe to say that you don’t have direct competitors since there isn’t any other business offering the same product. However, your indirect competitors are other companies also producing affordable cutlery and kitchen appliances.

Additionally, don’t say horrible things about your competitors. Don’t make them look like they aren’t doing anything right, because the truth is if they aren’t doing it right, they won’t remain in business.

A Long/Boring Business Plan
When pitching your business to investors, one of the major items they’d ask for is your business plan. Don’t go to presentations submitting a 70 to 100-page business plan. Those are too many words, and most investors just want to see how your solution can guarantee a return on their investment. Likewise, your revenue model shouldn’t be shallow, It should adequately convey your plans for your business’ success.

Based on my experience, I’d recommend that your business plan shouldn’t exceed 10 to 15 pages. If it’s a pitch, it shouldn’t be more than 10 slides.

Not Understanding Your Metrics
Want to scare off investors? Don’t understand your metrics and you’re good to go. You should be able to know how much it would cost you to acquire a customer or cost of delivering the product and marketing. Knowing these metrics would give you an idea of the amount of money needed to fund or expand your business. Additionally, understanding your metrics would help you and your team work purposefully towards setting and achieving your business’ growth goals.

Being Overconfident
Investors have experienced successes and failures; and they can sniff a lie from miles away. While investors expect you to be an expert in your business, they don’t expect you to be a Jack of all trades. Instead of touting yourself as a know-it-all, acknowledge your investors’ experience and let them know that while you are knowledgeable about your business, you welcome their suggestions and ideas about other areas of your business.

Excess Focus on Product Features
Strictly focusing on your products and their features when raising funds for your business isn’t a great idea. Sure, while you need to sell your products and their features to potential investors, you also have to clearly communicate that you aren’t just selling a product or offering a service. Let them know and show them that you’re building a customer-centric brand.

Without strategic marketing, a great team, financial literacy, emotional intelligence and efficient operations, your business won’t survive, even if your products or services are gems.

Likewise, let investors know if your products have a special feature, and make sure that you communicate clearly how you’ll ensure it isn’t copied or reproduced, such as patent protection or copyright.

Poor Forecasting
Nothing puts off investors more than an unrealistic goal. When you aren’t authentic, you lose credibility. Most business owners make the mistake of exaggerating their financial projections, metrics and market size.

Don’t say it would take competitors five years or more before they can reproduce your products; because when investors carry out an investigation and discover that your claims are far from the truth, you’ve blown your chances. Period!

Instead of falling into this, sell your execution and your value proposition.