Having an amazing startup idea is the initial stage of a successful business. But entrepreneurs that have figured out how to solve a certain problem usually get way too excited and jump right into creating their product or service. If you are doing the same, be careful because this is a trap!
Identifying a problem and building a solution for it is very important, but there is another step that is essential for a business’s success and one in which people usually skip, blinded by their emotions.
This step is known as Customer Validation and it is the one that will make or break the future of your startup.
For this reason, it is a must to go through it before you start building your service or product.
Why is it so important?
Because many entrepreneurs mistakenly prioritize the release of their MVP (Minimum Viable Product) without actually having any pieces of evidence for what their potential customers will need and especially will pay for.
You might have a great idea but if you aren’t sure that your customers find it great, too, and they are willing to pay for it, then you might be misled by your own opinion and not the one that matters the most – your customers.
Thus, customer validation will take some of your time and might feel uncomfortable at times but it is the step you need to be sure that the problem you are solving is real and that your timing is right.
To begin your validation process, you need to become an expert in your field, stop guessing and start asking the right questions.
Think about and prepare for any question that can come from potential investors about the problem that you are solving.
Don’t forget to keep your mind open, consider that you aren’t always right and learn from people that have already failed.
Testing and validating your idea can be done in different ways and you decide what will be your metric for success.
Even though this step can take a lot of your time, it doesn’t need to be expensive, so here are the essential steps you can use to test and validate your idea or a product without investing too much:
Research your competitors and their products
Spend as much time as possible on digging deep into who your competition is. It is crucial to understand who they serve and what they do, and from here you might figure out a niche that you haven’t thought about and you can target it from the beginning.
For example, Venngage have prepared templates that you can use for easier competitive research, which allow you to build profiles of your competitors:
Credit to Venngage
Use competitor products, so that you can identify their great, or not so great, feature(s), as well as figure out a flaw that can be used to your advantage. By creating theories about what is missing in your competitors’ products or services, you will be able to identify and create a product or a service that will be better and will give to your customers exactly what they need.
Another option is to realize that your competition is too big and you won’t be able to realistically compete with them and the earlier you have this realization, the better.
Talk to potential customers
A great way to talk to potential customers is by running informal focus groups where you can find out what your customers think about the problem you want to solve.
Twitter is a great example of a company that started using focus groups to figure out what makes Facebook users dissatisfied while using the platform. The most common complaint was about the very cluttered news feed which is hard to follow, so by taking into consideration the feedback of their focus groups, the idea behind Twitter was born.
Credit to Brett Jordan from Unsplash
Thus, use your focus group to inspire discussions and perspectives connected to the problem of interest and don’t forget that the bigger your target group, the better. Because having around 20 people and making assumptions based on their opinions isn’t enough to make you an expert on the market.
Create a survey
Now based on the information you’ve had from talking to your potential customers, it is time to do custom market research and pick the right questions to ask to a much larger audience. You can do that by creating a web survey for at least 200 people so the results can be statistically significant.
Credit to Celpax from Unsplash
Come up with questions that are focused on the specifics of the problem and will confirm or deny the theories you’ve been developing during your qualitative discussions.
Figure out what is the size of your market
If you’ve figured out that people are willing to pay for your idea so far, that’s great, but there is another thing to consider – the size of your market. This is one of the most important aspects of vetting a startup idea because it is the criteria that investors look at and will define their final decision. To create a large and scalable business, it is important to have a big market. Thus, you should calculate carefully your market size by starting with your Total Addressable Market (TAM).
Credit to Dearstrategy
This you can do by defining your industry and then segment this industry number down to the segment within the industry you are working in. What is important to remember while you do these calculations is also to consider the numbers of your competitors for benchmarking comparisons.
Create a Landing page
Another great way to validate your startup idea is to create a simple Landing page that presents your value proposition and can show you how many people are interested in what you have to offer. What is essential to have on your Landing page is an email form that will let you collect sign-ups for testing out your service or a product or for early-bird invites.
There are endless opportunities in building a Landing page, but If you want it for free, then you can create one by using Mailchimp.
Having a landing page is a very effective way of evaluating the interest of your customers, while at the same time helps you to start building your email list even before having a finished product/service.
What is also important to do is when you create a Landing page to add a survey to it and see what will be the responses of your market just from looking at the description of your service or product. If you have overwhelmingly good feedback, then you are most probably on the right track.
If you want to have an even more visual look over your product or service, then it’s a good idea to create a Demo video of it. It doesn’t need to be too complicated. It is enough to have an explanation of your vision, the problem and how you plan to solve it, and you might be able to receive funding before your product is even built. That is a very strategic way to approach investors and see how much interest they have in what you are offering.
Here you can check out the Demo Video of a Startup called Screenpush and analyze in detail what did they do exactly to make it so attractive and learn from them.
Using a crowdfunding platform, such as GoFundMe, The Crowd Space or Nordic Crowdfunding can be a great way not just to validate your startup idea but also to collect funds that you are going to use in making it real. Through this platform, you will be able to receive payments even before you’ve developed your service/product and this would be a great start for entrepreneurs who can’t rely on their funding when starting their business.
Validating your startup idea is crucial for its success and picking any of the abovementioned ways will save you a lot of money and stressful times.
You don’t have to use all of the steps, but spending time on most of them can totally shift your perspective and even change your business idea.
Even better, it can show you that you are on the right track, that your business has huge potential and many people are waiting to pay for it, so from then, you can start building your service and product with confidence.
For any further information regarding validating your Startup Idea, you can book a free discovery call.
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