Finding a product/market fit is the most important task a new business idea has. Forget branding, marketing, selling, getting press coverage – that means you are simply spending money and time you cant afford to.
A central part of our startup innovation bootcamp and our business modelling approach is idea validation. Understanding how or if your product can find a market. Not just interest or support, but sufficient demand for sustained commercial viability.
User validation can be categorized into 2 different parts, first validating the problem and secondly, experimenting to see if you can produce and validate a solution.
It’s very important to avoid what is called ‘confirmation bias’. That’s when we go out to the world looking for people to say yes, and tell you that your new wonderful idea is just that – when it is not. How many startup entrepreneurs or corporate intrapreneur do the circuit and sell their idea – with little true success.
Don’t keep pitching your business idea, ask questions. Few people care. It is all about listening. If you don’t know how to listen – learn quickly.
To get to the cause of a problem you need to ask questions. This is done by asking “Why questions” to understand the core emotion and feelings about a problem. Take notice of their emotions and observe their behaviour when they answering questions. Still interested? Great! Check out our two approaches below.
Your momma is not your test market.
Problem Validation – Understanding Pain
The main task is to comprehend the context of a user and why they would consider your solution. Identify and look for the ‘pains’ of the user. People will pay to get pains taken away.
Ask questions like;
1. Can you tell me more about the last time you did [pain]?
2. What are the reasons you do [pain]?
3. How often do you do [pain]?
4. What happens before/after you experience [pain]?
5. What don’t you like about [pain]?
When asking these questions, do not interrupt, listen, record it. Keep asking “Why questions?” to get a detailed view. Avoid questions that produce a “yes” or “no” answer. You want to get as much useful information as possible.
Solution Validation – Solving Pains
The aim of solution validation is to understand which features create and convey value to your users. The following questions will help you;
1. Does [solution] solve your problem?
2. Where does [short] fall short of your needs?
3. Have you used something similar? What was the experience?
4. Would [solution] create new problems or pains for you?
5. What needs to happen before you use [solution]?
Always, ensure you are talking to a relevant user or someone who sits in the market segment you want to target. To verify real interest, you might ask for some commitment.
If possible show your solution, even if it is a basic sketch or website mockup. Let them know it is not a final solution. Never explain how much cost or effort went into your project – it is not relevant and can cause bias in their replies. Avoid carrying out this task alone, get help from someone who doesn’t have your vested interest in your new product idea.