Market validation is annoying. Why are you wasting valuable time interviewing people about your proposed business? Time that could be spent building your product’s killer features and starting to make some serious money? Right?
It’s a dilemma a lot of start-ups face. Market validation and research can be seen as a thorn in the side of many businesses. Why? Because the majority of this work needs to be done before and during the initial building of the product – the most exciting time.
Let’s face it, after you have that eureka moment, you start to contemplate the possibilities of what your product could look like, how people use it, the money you could make and what colour the walls of your penthouse office might be painted. The last thing you really want to be doing is boring market validation.
I fell into this trap with my first business. I didn’t do any market validation. I built the product first and then dealt with marketing it, blindly expecting people to use it the way I envisioned and to want the same things I ‘thought’ they would want. I didn’t ask a single person what they wanted to see until it was already in the marketplace. Back then, I don’t think I even knew what market validation was, how important it is, and why it needs to be done.
This was just one of my many mistakes and lessons learned the hard way. I built the product for me, but forgot the fact that I am not the customer.
When you first start developing your idea you get a rush of excitement. It is seen time and time again with young companies. There is a wave of activity, hype and ‘coming soon’ enthusiasm. At this point you must put on the brakes and think about things. If you build this product, will anyone pay you for it? If not, why bother building it?
Interview people on the street, talk to your friends and family, talk to business colleagues, carry out online surveys, write blog posts, do online research and make sure you know everything there is to know about the trends of your market and who your competitors are. Collate the information and review it.
Build a prototype, a demo or create some screenshots to demonstrate how the product will look and feel. You’ll get better feedback when people can physically see your ideas. Build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and go out, talk to people. You can do all of this for very little money. If the market isn’t there, listen to it.
Once you have a clear vision and you know there is a demand, and more importantly, people will pay you for it, then go ahead and build!
On the flip side, there can be such a thing as ‘too much’ market validation. Business advisory organisations will always require you to do more and more validating (it’s part of their job). You can create business plans which seem to change every week and financial projections with numbers that are plucked out of thin air, but you’re never going to really know things with any certainty until you’re out there in the marketplace.
You’ll always be trying to find out what the mystical level of market validation is. You can validate your idea and it’s market until your face turns blue, but there comes a time when you just have to decide there are enough indicators to suggest you’ll do ok and get out there. Build your product, go out and sell it. Get people touching and feeling your first demo/beta and ask for feedback on its features, then you’ll be able to refine your product even further.
And remember, market validation doesn’t stop after the product is launched. Why develop and support a new feature that nobody wants or needs? You should constantly ask your customers for feedback and develop features that are going to add value.
Before you spend substantial time and money building your product take some time to complete your market validation, you’ll be glad you did, but don’t get stuck in endless market research and never get around to building it at all.
The trick is find the right balance between the two. There is no perfect amount. Start doing it and you’ll know when you’ve done enough and when you’re ready to start building.