The biggest mistake you can ever make is to start a business without practical knowledge about its potential for success. Don’t build a product for customers who may not even need it. Create something people actually want by first testing it’s usefulness. Idea validation can help you find the weakest link in your logic, answer all questions you may have about the idea, know if customers actually have the problem you think they have and the best way to solve it. Once you are able to identify the value (a single reason someone would be willing to pay for it or use it) of your idea and what prospective customers expect from you, you will be able to deliver just that.
Before you begin setting up an office, building your product or hiring employees, consider these idea validation methods to test the viability of your business.
1. Get connected with the right people. The basic premise is that to achieve success in anything (not only in business), it is necessary to constantly validate your ideas with others, ask for feedbacks, comments and sometimes criticisms. With respect to business ideas, some people are lucky enough to be part of a network where they can find the help, feedback, validation they need as soon as possible.
Those who are less well connected, can achieve the same result through Team Up Start Up, a platform where aspiring entrepreneurs collaborate with others, find co-founders and develop their ideas. After creating your profile on Team Up Start Up, you can write up your idea (that remains completely private), browse existing profiles, and invite other users who could potentially be helpful to look at your idea. These people can now read your idea, leave comments and feedback, and set your idea off to a great start.
2. Setup a simple but convincing landing page. One of the best ways to test a new idea is to ask people who could potentially use the product when it’s ready. Landing pages have proven to be one of the most useful methods to convey your idea but most importantly gather contact information of people interested in your product.
One critical aspect of this single page is that the content on the website must be stated as if the product or service already exists. Your landing page should have a call-to-action that allows users to leave their email addresses so you can provide them with access you launch. This is crucial because most of those who sign up will become your beta testers.
The validation process begins with the sign-up process but it doesn’t end there. Use the email addresses to reach out to these potential customers. Email them and begin a discussion by asking them what they expect to see in the product. Some potential users may be surprised to hear that you are asking for their opinion, but you can use this as an opportunity to fine tune your idea.
Also, this is a great opportunity to interview your potential customer to find out how they will use the product, how much they would pay for such a product/service, and if they would encourage their friends to use it.
3. Choose and interview your ideal customers. Make a list of potential clients you can reach out to and interview for 10 minutes or less in person or over a Skype video. This process could take time but it’s totally worth it. You will probably reach out to a lot more people than you originally planned because most of them may say no. Aim for 10 or 15 “yeses” and be prepared for the “I’m sorry, I can’t’” and a couple no replies.
Don’t try to make it easier for yourself by asking friends or family members. Get real potential customers you possibly don’t know who can give you an honest opinion. Make sure you can secure at least minutes of their time in person or over Skype. A natural back and forth conversation is essential to know exactly how they feel.
Take time to explain your business and the nature of the product or service you intend to launch. Clearly state the reason behind the interview and why it matters. Look out for the hesitation, excitement or a “wow” expression. You want to know if they are really into your idea or they are just saying what you expect them to say. Take down concise notes of each interview to help with analysis later.