What are the best ways to validate a business startup idea?
I’ve personally been a part of 14 start-ups and over 400 business turnarounds. I’ve been the Business Coach of hundreds of entrepreneurs who needed help in bringing their idea to fruition. They were of all sizes and shapes. Some had funding, most didn’t, and believe me you learn a lot after these experiences, and you learn the most from all the mistakes you make. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the years:
- PROTECT YOUR CASH: Protect what cash you have. Don’t spend a ton of money on researchers or consultants when you can do very relevant research on your own.
- FILL A NEED: I could really care less about whether random people liked the idea or not. You should be more concerned about if there was an actual need for the idea. Your idea may have its best fit within a unique, niche’ category so beware, don’t charge out and do a random public survey, you may never speak to the actual end user.
- CLARITY: Before you start your validation, get complete CLARITY…CLARITY…. CLARITY! Please write a business plan for your idea, before you dive off the entrepreneurial diving board. The simple act of writing a good, solid business plan BEFORE committing to the idea will force you to answer critical questions and do very focused research and save you tons of time, money and effort. A few clarity questions would include;
- Can you clearly describe the “emotional” value of your idea in 20 seconds or less? Look, i don’t want to know how it works. I want to know what problem it will solve for me. How it will make my life easier? How i will be more successful. If you can’t answer this, go back to the drawing board.
- What makes your idea so crazy unique that it would even have a market and/or beat out any existing competition?
- Who, specifically would be my perfect customer?
- Again, what problem or need am i solving that would dramatically change a specific market or consumer group?
- VALIDATE: There are several ways to validate your idea. Some will include,
- You can effectively research anything, instantaneously on any of the search engines…dig in!
- Seek out searches within very specific categories that your idea fits in
- Talk with friends and acquaintances who might have experience selling into these specific categories
- Read newspaper articles; magazine articles and newsletters on your “ideas” industry.
- Go to web sites and post questions that deal with the need that you believe your idea would fill. Don’t give away your idea but probe into the validity of your perceived solution
- DON’T FALL IN LOVE: Don’t be “in love” with your idea so much that you are not open to changing your idea! You might find that when you do some very specific research and conversations that people may say, “I like your idea, but for this industry if you would just focus it here rather than there, do this rather than that, it would be incredible!” Many time’s my original idea ended up completely different but more effective and more valuable.
- LEARN THE BUSINESS: Know something about the business you’re about to dive in to. If you don’t know much about it, learn. The reason that nearly 90% of all start-ups fail within two years is that the entrepreneur had a great idea with no experience or guidance and an unwillingness to learn.
- ENTREPRENEUR? ME? Understand the definition of an Entrepreneur! It’s not someone who just has a great idea! It’s about work and effort, and more work and more effort. It’s about believing in yourself and your idea when no one else does. It’s about pain and suffering and sacrifice. It’s about not making payroll unless you don’t pay yourself. And it’s about my final point.
- BE FULLY COMMITTED: Finally, be fully committed! Many times, investors, bankers and supporters alike will base their willingness to help you with ideas; advice and counsel strictly upon their perception of your level of commitment to the concept. If they can see, hear and feel your passion and commitment; your coachability and your willingness to listen, they won’t have the time for you!
Focus, clarify, work hard and always be ready and willing to step out in faith at some point.
If you need help bringing your idea to life, let me know. I’m a Master Business Coach and this is what I do and I’m open for business. Good Luck
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