After experiencing the same frustration over and over, inspiration strikes and you’re convinced you’ve come up with the next Uber or SpaceX. You think this idea could be big and you can’t wait to get started.
But of course the question remains - is your idea actually viable and do customers want what you’re selling?
Over time we’ve seen a lot of hopeful entrepreneurs start building their idea based on their own assumptions before figuring out if it makes sense in the first place. While it is hard to do, it’s critical to figure out if you’re achieving what’s known as Product / Market Fit by ensuring there’s an underserved market that has a need with customers willing to pay for it. Otherwise, you risk spending a lot of time, money and resources to build something that could be a bad fit.
With that in mind, here are 4 ways you can get your project started off on the right foot and save yourself time in the long run validating whether your idea actually has legs to stand on:
1. Google it.
Pretty simple, right? That said, with a simple Google search your goal should be to figure out if there are products out there similar to your idea. If you find one, dig in and figure out what problem they’re trying to solve. Are there enough differentiators where they could be a direct or indirect competitor? Competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it means there’s a need in the market, however you should be able to answer the question of whether your idea is providing more or less value than your competitors and from there, decide if it’s worth it to move forward.
2. Define Your Target Customer.
Who is the ideal customer that wants to buy what you’re selling? Does your idea solve a problem they are actually experiencing? Of course you’re not going to know if your assumptions are correct yet but by hypothesizing and creating a persona to describe them will make it drastically easier to market, design and build for them in the future.
3. Talk to Your Potential Target Customer.
There’s no better intel you could gather than from the people who you’ve hypothesized will want to buy your product. By doing Customer Discovery, you can quickly work through a few of the questions you’ve already asked yourself: “Do they want what I’m selling?” “What is the most vital thing they need ASAP?” “How much would they spend to solve this issue?”. If you don’t have access to your potential customers directly, set up a Landing Page or create a Facebook Ad that collects email addresses of those who might be interested. In talking directly with your potential customers, you’ll quickly learn whether or not your idea actually has product / market fit.
4. Define Your MVP.
Finally, start to think about what it is you’re trying to sell. Whether it’s a product or service, you should always have your Target Customer in mind and research what your customers need now and build that first. In doing that, you’ll start to develop an idea of your Minimum Viable Product (MVP), with your focus being on figuring out how to develop the smallest version of your idea and start learning what your customers want as quickly as possible. By defining and testing your MVP, you’ll not only get a better idea of what you’re trying to build but also get a clearer idea of what your potential customers actually want.
Once you've gone through these 4 steps, you should be in a much better position to validate whether your assumptions make sense and actually achieve Product / Market Fit. If you’ve decided to kill the idea because it doesn’t serve a need, think of it as saving yourself from figuring that out a year down the road with a bunch of money and time wasted to come to the same conclusion.
And of course, if after going through these 4 steps you’ve decided to continue, you now have a great base of information that will allow you to make more sound decisions for the future of your idea.
Wondering what to do next? Check out how you can make your idea a reality.