Anxiety can fell like an early stage entrepreneur's constant companion. Building a business is an emotional journey as much as it is a professional one.  You are investing your time, money, and talent into bringing to life your vision - there's no doubt you are emotionally invested in the success of your company.  And while anxiety ebbs and flows amid the development of your product or service, it has the potential to peak when you ask whether or not your product is ready for market. How do you know? And can you mitigate your risk ahead of time? 

On episode two of iFundWomen's series, You're Not Crazy, BroadMic Host Erica Duignan Minnihan, weighs in. In her opinion, you have to take the leap and embark on the ultimate anxiety-inducing process of finding out if people really want whatever it is you’ve created.

By nature, beta testing is anxiety-provoking. I’m worried that I’m gonna create something, I’m gonna put it out in the world, and people are gonna be like, ‘I don’t want that.’

It’s called beta testing and there’s just no way around this integral part of building your business.  Emotions aside, a beta test is the best possible thing you can do for your company - and yourself. Beta testing gets you real-world feedback on your product or service from a small, trusted audience, in advance of mass production or significant time and capital investments. That feedback enables you to profoundly refine your product, generate buzz, and meet the needs of your customers.

The concept of a beta, although potentially very rewarding, can be incredibly daunting. As the entrepreneur who dreamed up this idea, you now are obligated to step out and share it with the real world, or at least a select portion of it. iFundWomen’s CEO & founder, Karen Cahn, got a taste of this entrepreneurial anxiety when she launched the beta cohort in November of 2016.  

iFundWomen's Beta application page: beta.ifundwomen.com

iFundWomen's Beta application page: beta.ifundwomen.com

20 female-led businesses were selected to raise money on the crowdfunding platform, but no matter how groundbreaking Karen knew her business idea was, there was no guarantee that there would be a big enough audience out there who believed in the power of this platform to help close the funding gap for female entrepreneurs. Eight months and over 100 campaigns later, after a successful beta, iFundWomen is gearing up to go to market with a supportive audience and an optimized business strategy.

The beta doesn’t lie and it will forever be the most efficient way to find out if there is a market for your product or service. So just how do you go about it? There are lots of different ways to launch a beta - focus groups, industry events, surveys - and crowdfunding.  Not only can crowdfunding be the perfect testing ground for your product or service, but you can raise money for your business at the same time.  A crowdfunding campaign forces you to get out there in the world talking about your business, connecting with prospective customers, and learning ahead of going to market. So, for the budding entrepreneurs out there, turn that anxiety into productivity and get to testing!