I’m sure most of you have recently heard a friend or colleague share an idea with you with enthusiasm and in response, you tried to be nice and said “sounds interesting” while telling yourself “that’s a bad idea”. This happens because it's not just about the idea. As important as ideation is the skill to validate the idea. This simple skill gap has led to many people pursuing ideas that never had a chance, which led to a lot of wasted time and money. I go a lot deeper into the importance of validating an idea in my upcoming book, Side Adventure, the playbook to leverage your corporate job, pursue a side venture, and find happiness and fulfillment. For this article, I will brush on some of the key points.
Focus On The Problem
When coming up with a product idea, the most important thing to ask yourself is: What problem does the idea solve?
Many new entrepreneurs and executives get stuck on the product and its features and in many cases chasing the next new feature. Instead, you should write down the problem your idea is solving and let this statement guide you to the next steps. Asking the following questions can help you identify problems:
Why does something cost so much?
Can technology be used to cut out the middleman?
Why does it take so long to do this certain thing?
Can a solution work in multiple industries?
Why does this product or service frustrate me?
The Value Proposition
After identifying the problem and the way your product solves it, ask yourself, what kind of value does it bring to the users and customers? Does it change their life for the better? Of course, your solution might change and evolve over time, which is called a pivot and is something many startups go through when trying to find product-market-fit. Product-market-fit is when your product or service has satisfied your addressable market and has met their demand.
Next, you need to ask yourself: Who is your customer or end-user? You need to be very specific to be able to find the early potential users of the product and get feedback. If possible, you should write a hypothetical customer profile. This will enable you to further understand and research your market, which you need to do to make sure you are solving a large enough problem to sustain a profitable business. At this point in your market research, you also need to identify who your competition might be to gauge your barrier to entry.
By going through the above process, you will have better clarity on your idea and the problem you are trying to solve, who your potential users and customers are, who the competition might be, and the size of your addressable market. The next step is to validate your idea with potential customers.
Feedback and Validation
There are two easy and low-cost ways to do this. The first is by using social media and reaching out to industry experts. The second approach is to set up a temporary landing page for your product where you drive traffic to this page using social media ads to measure the conversion rate of visitors compared to people that gave you their email. If more than 10% of visitors show interest in your yet-to-be-built product, you are on to something.
Validating an idea is an iterative process, and at each step, you are trying to collect data to inform your next step. While there will be more bad ideas than great ideas, remember, you are one idea away from finding something you can be passionate about.
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