You’ve got a new business idea, and you think it’s got great potential. Awesome! But how do you know anyone will spend their hard-earned cash on your product?
Validating your business idea early and often is key to launching a successful product or service. Here are a few ideas on how to get started.
Clearly define the problem you’re solving and for whom
First things first. You may love your idea, but if it’s not solving a problem or need for your prospective customer, you’re going to have a hard time convincing anybody to purchase it. Start by talking to as many people as you can in your target audience and listen carefully to their answers. Why do they need this product? How will it make their lives easier? The key to this phase is to remove your ego and assumptions from the process so you can be as receptive as possible to their input. Need help to determine if you’re solving for the right problem? Check out this article from Harvard Business Review.
Analyze the competition
While you may ultimately choose to ignore what the competition is doing and go your own route as so many startups in Silicon Valley suggest, it would be foolish not to at least inform yourself of what is happening in your industry and niche. Not only will investors want to know that you’re up to speed on the competition, but you need to be firmly convinced that the value you’re creating isn’t being solved for elsewhere. That’s not to say that you can’t enter a market that already has established players—but if you plan to do so, you need to understand what your unique selling proposition is that goes above and beyond what’s already on the market (or segments it in a targeted way).
Build a prototype
Start with a small budget and put together something concrete that you can begin to adapt. It’s very rare that your product or service will be perfect in its first form. You’ll likely need to go through several iterations before you find a solution that satisfies your ideal consumer, so consider validation just part of the development process. Set aside some capital so you can invest in responding to the validation work you’re about to embark on.
Find beta testers
It might be tough to expose your idea at first, but if you want it to become a reality, you need to engage some beta testers. Seek out a few of those folks you engaged in the first stage of this process and let them give you feedback on your first attempt. One word of advice here, if you’re going to share your product or service with friends or family, take their feedback with a grain of salt. Ultimately, they may not be your ideal customer. If that’s the case, then be careful about incorporating their ideas into the next iteration of your product. In this phase, your customer is the only one that truly matters.
Take advantage of an online community
If your idea fits into a niche interest where others are also very passionate, or if you’re looking for some support from fellow people looking to launch an idea, look on Facebook, Reddit, or other online communities for appropriate groups where you can openly discuss your idea and get some feedback. Check out this list of product testing sites where you can get users to review and respond to your product or idea. Again, same rules apply. Responses from your ideal customer should take priority over all others.
Launch a mini-campaign
Test interest in your product by launching a mini-campaign to your targeted user-group before you actually release the product. You can do this by creating a landing page that describes your product and asking people to sign up and stay informed on when the launch happens. The thought leaders at Moz put together this whiteboard Friday video to provide you with some guidelines on how to best execute this strategy.
We hope you found these strategies on how to validate your business idea helpful! Best of luck as you take your first step into entrepreneurship.