Every Idea Needs Validation.
We’re all selling, monetary transaction or not, something that solves a problem. I stopped asking for feedback from friends about ideas a long time ago. I also stopped trying to build businesses around problems specific to my life. Solving your own problems could be the next big thing, but you need to validate that this matters to other people. Most of the time your own feedback echo chamber will be worthless. (That said, I do have a core group of people that give me honest and challenging feedback. Find those people in your life.)
You need to collect as much data as possible before you build. Competitor studies are helpful, but they’re not enough. I like to test ideas on segments of people in target markets relevant to my idea. The only people from whom you should be gathering feedback are the people experiencing the problem you are solving.
Get a web page set up, have a pro review your messaging, and spend a hundred bucks on advertising. Don’t share it over the social web or blast an email out to your network. Those are not real-world results. Target real people who don’t love you. If targeted people click through and buy, sign up, join, post (or whatever action indicates it’s working) for a reasonable cost per user acquisition, you may be onto something.
Spending a few hundred dollars up front before dropping thousands on product development is well worth it. You still have a long way to go, but at least now you know people are willing to give you their email address or, even better, pull out their credit card and pay you.
Rigorously test your ideas. When you find a hit, press the gas. If the idea isn’t working, put it on the back burner and move on to the next one. It could be the messaging, timing, or maybe it just isn’t a big enough problem.
There are so many tools available to build a landing page to get an idea into the world. If you can’t hack one together, use LaunchRock, Squarespace, Strikingly, or whatever. If you already have a product or service ready to accept credit cards, we at Revelry built OnePageSale to help solve that exact problem. It’s free and takes 5 minutes to set up an online store. I’m not telling you that you need to use our product, but you do need to use products and techniques like it. Ones that give you data to let you know whether to double down on your idea or move on.
You need to know what’s worth spending your energy and money on. Always validate first. Always.