Today I wanted to write about idea validation. How do you validate your idea before spending 100s or 1,000s of hours blindly building it – then launching it and see it flop or take years to get any traction.
So you’ve got a great idea for a startup, what’s the first thing you do? BUY THE DOMAIN NAME ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°).
Joking aside. If you’re like I was – or even like a lot of other startup founders you’ll go ahead and start building the idea. Spending countless hours developing it, writing code and designing the UI/UX. Then you launch it and … nothing happens.
When this happens it is soul destroying. That’s why it’s better to validate your idea first. How can you do this?
1. Do your research.
First up, does the idea already exist and are there products already serving that market. If there are, what’s the customer feedback like about their products:-
- Are there feature requests which aren’t being added?
- Are there reviews highlighting what’s working (or what’s not)?
- Are there other products similar, which you can apply to your product?
Just because the idea exists doesn’t mean you can’t also enter the market with a product that’s:-
- Easier to use (more intuitive user experience).
- Cheaper to use (SEO tools are crazy expensive for a lot of people).
- Simpler to use (taking a 100 feature product, and focusing on just 1 or 2 key features).
2. Find out why start ups fail
A nice little website I frequent now and then is Failory especially the failed startup area. This gives you reasons why startups fail and you can try and avoid them for your own idea.
- Couldn’t find product market fit.
- Didn’t validate the idea.
- Didn’t do the maths (how can this break even?).
- Plus many more.
Learning from others’ mistakes is an obvious tactic to employ.
3. Create a Landing Page / Offer.
This is the most important thing in my mind after you’ve done your research and high level numbers. Creating a landing page forces you to fine tune the messaging around your idea. Once you’re happy with it, stick a sign up link at the bottom (and throughout if a longer form landing page).
Then, when you’re actually ready to launch all you need to do is flip the email form for a download button / buy-now button.
Bonus points if you record a commercial (30-45 second explainer video) to sit on your landing page. That way people can quickly consume the idea without reading a long form landing page.
If your audience doesn’t engage with the idea from that initial landing page, hopefully you’ll have had some feedback to allow you to adjust the idea. If no feedback at all and you’ve sought advice at all the places I mention below, maybe the idea isn’t worth getting past the idea stage.
4. Email your Target Audience.
If you’ve already built up an email list of your Target Audience – great. You can email your list with a link to your landing page and even ask for feedback (or, for them to enter their email if they’re interested).
You might be scared that someone will steal your idea but generally they won’t.
5. Tweet about it.
You can tweet it (if Twitter is your thing) – like my tweet below.
Pinning the tweet will help get more eyes on the content, especially if you’re active on twitter and people visit your profile.
Of course, the larger your Twitter following the more likely you are to get engagement and responses to your tweet for help.
6. Ask your Friends and Family
You might not have a Twitter following or any email list. If this is the case – start building one – but you can also ask your friends for help.
- Post on Facebook
- Post on LinkedIn
7. No Audience, No Friends, No Family
If you’ve no Audience at all (or too shy to ask your loved ones), it’s still important to craft your landing page to formulate your offer and try and seek feedback. You can ask the internet for feedback on the idea. Here’s some places you can turn to:-
- Facebook groups (find ones where your target audience hang out).
- Reddit Side Projects.
- Ask a Quora question.
There’s plenty of places to find people who like to comment on ideas. Don’t be shy and get to it.
8. I’m GONNA DO IT ANYWAY
If you’re passionate about your idea you may choose to do it anyway, even without the positive feedback. You may want to do this to:-
- Learn to code with an end-goal in mind.
- Develop a new skill (like creating video content).
- For fun as a hobby.
I’m a little bit like this with my WordPress Wannabe course – even though there’s already thousands of WordPress courses out there, I’m gonna do it anyway because:-
- I can use Sensei (and feedback to our product team about it).
- I can practice building a landing page for it (using Gutenberg).
- I’ll get to shoot my first commercial video for it.
- Rather than just a text-based course, I’ll get lots of practice on video.