I would like to explore three areas I use to help validate if any startup idea has traction. Most entrepreneurs tend to validate their idea by building an MVP or minimal viable product and use that as the testing model, which is great if you are willing to risk the time and money to invest in this approach knowing full well that it could end up in failure.
I believe the biggest reason for this is because most entrepreneurs want to showcase a working solution to get the best possible feedback but in my opinion, this is counterintuitive. While planning is the best approach, many want to go with the idea without vetting it, so here is a simple way you can approach it.
Write down your product idea. We are not talking about doing a business model but just writing it down. This helps you to really start thinking about the idea. As you write it down, think about these four questions.
- What problem and I solving and Why?
- Who are my Customers?
- Who are my Competitors?
- Would someone pay money for this product?
The first three are key in understanding where you stand in the marketplace, who needs your solution and why they need it. The biggest takeaway, from these three, is what problem am I solving. Remember, you are solving a problem not selling a solution.
The last question really helps you identify whether your idea will be a business or just a hobby. There are so many great solutions in the marketplace but not all of them make money. They tend to serve a different purpose by helping others or providing helpful information. So determine if someone is willing to pay money for your solution and why would they.
Create a network of participants to help validate your idea. I don’t always believe in surveys from strangers. It is nice to get feedback from people who are only evaluating the product but I believe in the initial startup stages, asking people you know such as colleagues, friends or mentors is a good way to start but make sure this group is also part of the target audience you are going after. You need a network that understands the problem you are solving based on the fact that you are solving their problem. Also be sure to explain to them that you want their honest opinion on the product. It’s very common for your small network of friends and colleagues to be overly nice during this process but the goal here is to validate your solution and make it better. This is not the time for feelings to be hurt.
This step sounds like the easiest but it is always the hardest in my opinion. After Step 1 and Step 2, gather all you have learned and start back at Step 1. This exercise will help you create a better product and really start to dive deeper into the problem you are solving. This all leads to helping you develop your value proposition and once again validating it with your network of participants.
And don’t think you are done after you launch your product. You should always go back and revisit this process to help you make your product better especially with competition, key insights and new trends in the market. This is a circular process, not a linear one.
I think this is an easy way to approach validating your product idea before building it. Work out the kinks and understand if it is something the market needs and are they willing to pay for it. Once you believe you have a viable product, build your MVP and make it happen. Oh, don’t forget to integrate a solid marketing plan also to create awareness.