The first thing you should do is create a survey using a tool like Typeform, and ask just five questions about your new idea. Keep it short and simple, and keep it multiple-choice with a section at the end to leave a message or comment. Then get 100 of your closest friends and family on Facebook or other social networks, or even complete strangers to answer the survey. Don’t even tell them you are thinking of starting a new business, try to keep the questions vague but informative so that you can get the best results. This way there is no bias.
Once you analyze the data, you’ll be able to make a decision on whether or not the idea is worth pursuing. Your next step will be to build a minimum viable product or MVP. This might be a prototype of your new pet toy using a 3-D printer, or your new app idea. Just remember, you want to build the most basic, minimal product in order to find out if people like what you are trying to do by getting the same 100 people to test it early on.
Once you have your idea started, whether it’s your new fashion boutique, app or product, and you’ve had these 100 people take a look at what you’re doing, at that point, you want to get your first customer. Does anybody want to buy this new pet toy? Do people actually want to install your app and use it? Do people like the clothes you are selling? Once you get a customer, you want to try to get as many customers as possible. This way you are basically pre-selling your business.
Once you have a substantial user base of pre-customers, if you are selling a physical product, you might want to consider crowdfunding your product on Indiegogo or Kickstarter. Since you already have a bunch of customers, it should be easy to sell your product. If you have an app that you are building instead, now would be a good time to put together a team of developers to help you build it, of course assuming you already have some sort of prototype.
One of the things people forget to do (or they get too lazy to do), is to create a detailed outline or workflow document explaining exactly what it is your idea does. This is useful for you, your team, and anyone you plan to bring on board. Nothing is more annoying than having to explain yourself 47 times when a document will suffice.
At this point, you’ve gotten early feedback, built a prototype, and started to sell it. You should now have enough information about your idea, and whether or not you should commit the next few years of your life to it. Once you reach a point where you are earning the same (or more) income as your day job from your idea, then you can officially quit your job and start a new chapter in your life. Until then, keep testing, getting feedback, and selling your product to make sure it’s an idea people like.