“I have this idea for a startup.” It’s the first sentence most people say when they start talking about their idea says Paul Haarman. But before you can make your idea happen, there’s something else you need to do: validate whether or not the startup is worth pursuing.
1. Google searches your competitors and sees if anyone is already doing it:
You’ll often find that someone has already done what you want to do and that there isn’t much interest in it. If no one is currently doing it, then proceed to step two. If someone is, consider either trying to work with them as a partner or finding another way to build your product/service to avoid competing with them.
2. Find out if your target market exists:
This involves creating a survey or doing extensive interviews with potential users of your startup’s product/service. Find out who they are, what their problems are, and how much they’re willing to pay for a solution.
3. Determine the MVP (minimum viable product):
Your MVP is the smallest number of features you can have that will still solve your customers’ problems without having too many bugs or being unusable in itself because it lacks so many features. In other words, it’s the bare minimum you need to get something done without having to work on unnecessary things first.
4. Test your product/service:
Once you’ve created a prototype of your idea – whether that be a website that’s already built or just a description of what you plan to do – start testing your product/service with potential customers. Paul Haarman says to keep in mind that your idea may need some tweaking once you get it into the hands of users, so iterate quickly and efficiently.
5. Market your product/service:
Your MVP isn’t really worth anything if no one knows about it, so don’t slack on promoting your startup at this stage (you can continually improve later). Start building relationships with journalists who cover startups like yours and make sure to research which marketing channels are the most cost-effective for your particular industry.
6. Gather user feedback:
Paul Haarman says, as soon as you launch your product/service, start gathering feedback from actual users by asking them directly or using built-in analytics software. This way, you’ll be able to determine which problems need the most immediate attention and why people aren’t willing to pay for your product/service.
7. Keep tweaking:
Once you’ve iterated on an idea a few times, it’s time to stop changing things and call it done. However, this is not the case when it comes to tech startups – instead of calling it quits once you’re done with developing your idea, keep working on getting better at doing what you already do because there will always be room left for improvement.
This entire process is an ongoing cycle that you will constantly go through as your startup grows. It’s easy to fall into the trap of adding more and more stuff to your idea to trick yourself into thinking your product will be better but don’t forget the essential rule: build only what users want.