When I started my first company in 2004, I was unsure. Unsure of myself, my idea, and my ability to execute. That self-doubt can be crippling; it makes you hesitate to go all in, to really believe. And if you don’t believe, nobody else will. You. Have to have the passion to show it.
That is one reason that finding an investor seemed so important to me on my first company. I thought I needed their validation, even more than their money.
Validation from a VC is the worst place to get that though! I didn’t learn that until my second company. It is far far better to get validation of your idea from preorders or even better, from paying customers.
I guess that is why I love The Lean Startup by Eric Reis so much. It gives you permission to make an MVP and get going fast, get validation of all your assumptions from real customers!
However, The Lean Startup fails a bit too. It doesn’t tell you what it will be like, that you will hit bumps, and that you must persist (more than just pivot) but persist-pivot! It also fails to tell you how to actually build that MVP and get it going!
That’s part of Europe I wrote my book: Lean Startings
. Through storytelling, you learn what it means to persist, to fail, and to succeed. You also learn how to build that website, how to take preorders or orders, and ultimately how to fulfill and satisfy customers!
Please get my book; I wrote it for you!
So, you have an idea? An invention even? How do you know for sure it is any good? Here is 5 ways you can test your idea without building it first.
1.) create a free website at http://wordpress.com and make 2 pages. Page 1 describes your idea, and includes a link to Buy Now! Page 2 says “sorry” out of stock and asks for an email. Now send everyone you know to the page… And see how many you ‘sell’.
2.) Setup some interviews with people who should really want your product/service. Ask them about the idea and ask how much they might pay for that… judge the amount as validation!
3.) Go to a trade show and try to hand out a flier about your idea… Judge people’s reaction and ask them what they think.
4.) Search the web for similar products and especially for targey customer types actually complaining about the problem your idea solves. Hear nothing/find nothing…. Probably not good for your idea.
5.) Make a mockup of your idea and stand at a corner where target customers might walk by. Ask people if they would like to learn and what they would pay for that.
The key idea is: will your target customer pay for the idea?
Go out and see BEFORE you build it.
Thats lean startup.