9 ways to validate your startup
As an aspiring entrepreneur, having an optimistic attitude, a marketable solution to a problem and a vague plan in the name of a “strategy” is never enough. Before nose diving into an idea for a startup, you need to take a step back and have a bird’s eye-view of the entire strategy. Many minute things are to be taken into consideration before you start turning your dream into reality. When you start an endeavour, you have to know that you need a good system to implement that startup idea and scale it up gradually. All the potential hurdles are to be taken into account and several plan Bs to each hurdle should be devised. There are several ways to validate the survivability of your start-up. Validation is the process of determining whether your solution is genuinely helpful towards solving the problems of your target customer base.
Let us take a good look at some methods that you can use to validate the idea of your start-up :
The first step towards establishing a startup to build solutions to a problem is to ensure and have agreement that the problem actually exists. Successful startups begin with identifying a problem themselves, identifying the target customers, and then ensuring that the the target customer base agrees that there indeed is a problem and they do require a product or a service that will help them solve it.
You are your best critic. Nobody can gauge and assess your virtues and flaws as meticulously as you, yourself will. Therefore, a self-assessment might be a plausible approach to checking the validity of your idea. Question yourself, are you doing it for the money, for your customers or do you want to reach a middle-ground. Is your plan really foolproof? If not, what hurdles might be there? Are you prepared for the hurdles? – and so on. It’s free and it’s reliable, because only you can judge yourself harshly while having your own best interest in mind
While focussing on catering to the needs of your loyal customers should be on the top of your priority list, being aware of the market around your start-up is also important. An important part of the market you’re trying to establish your company in are your competitors. More often that not, they are similar individuals or group of individuals with ideas and aspirations like yours. Studying their market demographic and their past sales strategies can be a very helpful way to assess what worked out for them and what didn’t – because chances are, things will play out similarly for you too. Therefore, while making mistakes is a good thing, perhaps learning from the mistakes that others have made is a smarter thing to do.
Studying the market and knowing the demographic of your customers is a major part of establishing a company. It helps you understand your customer base better and take important decisions such as estimating investment, gauging the demand and advertising the product in a way that would appeal to the target customers. Once you understand your customer demographic, it will become clearer to you whether your idea is valid and whether or not your start-up will be successful. This also helps you get a clearer idea about the approach that you should take and helps you strategize for the future.
Creating a page on social media, before the starting or launch of the actual product/service is a good way to gauge the overall reaction of the prospects. The amount of response the promotional campaign receives is a detrimental factor in deciding what approach to take in the future. Moreover, it also helps create a sense of excitement and buzz in the market for the new products/service that is going to arrive soon.
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just the basic, essential features.. It is launched at a nominal number to provide the target customers with a taste of what they should expect from your company. This is not only a great way to promote your product, but also, it helps you gather feedback for future product development. Gathering insights from a minimum value product is inexpensive and costs less than developing and launching the final product with more features and at a larger scale, which increases investment cost and risk of monetary loss in case the product fails.
Surveys are another important tool of gathering mass feedback in an inexpensive way and in a short period of time from people who come from vastly different stratas of the society. Dedicated survey websites are always helpful in gathering feedback. They are simple, easy to use and not time consuming at all. And many offer incentives too. So, people don’t mind participating. This is another great way to gauge needs, interest, and gaps in specific industries.
Time and experience hold a lot of worth when it comes to start-ups. There are very high chances that you’re not the first person to blaze the trail of start-ups. There have been many more before you who have dared, erred and learned. There are always going to be people whose knowledge and experience go beyond yours. Networking comes into play here – interact with them, don’t afraid to ask questions, gather as much information as possible. This helps you to establish important contacts in the industry who might help you when you need guidance or help in the future.
Any new endeavour is bound to make you nervous of all the unforeseeable circumstances. But the important part is not being afraid of failures and hardships and moving forward. Your closest friend to keep you company in this journey is your sense of intuition. At the end of the day, do what your intuition says and follow your gut. Everything else will fall into place.
Ashish Mittal is Chief Mentor and Founder of TurningIdeas Ventures, a startup Incubator based in Noida. You can follow him at @ashishmitt