Validating an idea

Written by Tom

After identifying a problem and its solution, the next important step is to validate the solution to make sure that it actually solves the problem and meets the needs of your customers. The most important thing to remember in this process is that validation is not just a one-off thing. You need to validate early and often, as this is to ensure that what is being worked on still meets the needs of your customers. This can minimise chances of failure or at least give you the time to pivot sooner if your product or service is not validated.

For this article, we’ll highlight a few useful techniques to help you do this:

  1. Get out there and talk to people!

    One of the most important things you can do is talking face-to-face with people as its one of the quickest and easiest ways to get feedback. You don’t even need a product or service to do this. Just go and ask people about your idea, maybe have a few sketches or designs to help them understand it. With a good “elevator pitch” these might not even be necessary!

    It surprising how willing people are to help if you say that you’re starting up your own business! One of the best approaches for this is by playing the “student card” - it makes a massive difference! When approaching people, start by saying that you are a student - even if you’re not (just graduated etc) - before asking them to help and this will make a huge difference in the number of people who help!

    This is useful in the very early stages when you do not have a product as people are more willing to be honest about an idea. If it is used at a later stage and they see you have already made a product, they may be reluctant to express any negative views out of kindness or embarrassment (such feedback is important though!)

  2. MVP testing

    Whilst you will want to be conducting multiple focus groups as the business develops, to get regular validation and use the feedback to avoid any potential pitfalls, it is important to get your customers or users to actually engage with your product or service as soon as possible. Whilst entrepreneurs are often scared about letting consumers see an incomplete product - as they often think someone will try and steal their idea (which is very rarely the case) - it allows for consumers to better understand what is being offered and therefore be able to provide more useful feedback, allowing for an agile process to take place whereby improvements can constantly be made. Using regular focus groups can help give you the feedback you need to make changes, but it is often best to give the product directly to your customers who can spend more time exploring it. More often than not, they will give suggestions as to what they think works/doesn’t work.

  3. People pay to use your product

    The best bit of validation you can get is people being prepared to pay for your product or services. Talking to potential customers can not only lead to them giving you reasons why they wouldn’t pay for it - again, valuable feedback which you can learn from - but it can even lead to sales, so always be closing!!

    Here’s a great video on this: (shoutout to Future Worlds for this one!)

Hopefully, this gives you a quick overview and some ideas on how to get started with the validation process. Whilst you may get negative feedback along the way, remember that it is an ongoing process! All feedback is good as it is information which you can act on and utilise to make your business better than it was before! Having focus groups and customers giving you feedback and telling you what they don’t like about your product or service is often much better than them praising it as it means you can always improve your offering by listening to their feedback, learning from it, and iterating again.

Here are some other great links on the validation process: