Did you know that 85 per cent of start-ups fail in their first six months due to inadequate idea validation? Propelled by the excitement of starting a new business, founders move right from idea to execution, and rush into website development, logo and design, technology set-up, etc.
What needs to happen is a very detailed and measurable validation process. Here are a few ways to validate ideas before turning them into successful and profitable companies.
1. Google Trends & Keywords. This free tool can help you look for data on potential customers. Who is already looking for your solution? How often are they searching for answers? Looking at trends and keywords also helps with future website and SEO plans.
2. Start-up sites, incubators and accelerators. Using websites like the beta kit, angel.co or producthunt.com, you can research competitors that are also startups but may be ahead of you in the market. Routinely check start-up listings from local and global incubators and accelerators for competitors. These resources will help to ensure you know your competition, their service offering, company size and other details.
3. Act “as if”. Pretend your business is already up and running and start to pitch your potential customers on your service. Will they buy? Can they validate your assumptions? Is your product or service priced for the market? Acting as if you are already in the market is a great way to get close to your customers and fill up your sales funnel before launching. Have at least 100 prospects ready to buy before going to market.
One mistake made too often is validation with friends and family. This is the riskiest method! Your friends and family will either blindly support your ideas or might not know enough to provide correct advice. They are often not your ideal customer, so it will be hard for you to get proper feedback. Don’t rely on this type of validation!
Finally, as you validate your idea, focus on the values of your product or service and not features; for example, at the start-up Schoolio where we provide affordable online home education, our values for customers include time-saving, lowering stress and affordable education. We conducted our validation that “if we created feature X, it will then help ease customer values X.”
Have followed the same steps on my own journey to get to our first 100 customers and our first 100k in sales. While building a new start-up is one of the most challenging career choices you can make, it will also be life changing.