How to Validate Your Startup Idea

April 30, 2019
Charlotte Dougall
Charlotte Dougall

Founder of Blether, helping small businesses do big things online.

So you’ve got a great idea for a product or a service - but how do you know if it’s something that your audience actually want and need? That’s where validation comes in. It won’t do you any favours to invest valuable time and money into an idea that nobody wants. Sure, sometimes taking risks pays off, but with just a bit of time spent on researching your market, you can mitigate that risk and increase your chances of success.

What problem are you solving?

You don’t need to have your whole product built before you start, but you should have a clear idea of what the problem you’re solving is. Realistically, people buy because they have a problem to solve, and knowing exactly what motivates them to make the purchase will help you tap into how your product can be promoted and the buttons you can press to encourage users to buy. It doesn’t always need to be a huge, life-changing problem, but effectively solving a big problem for your customers will put you in their good books.

What does your audience want?

The easiest way to figure this out is simply to ask. When building a startup, you’ll want to have an audience in mind for your product or service. If you’re not sure where to start on that front, check out our blog post about researching your ideal audience. Once you’ve got an idea of who you’re trying to reach, you can attempt to find some people within that audience that you can speak to and ask.

This might take the form of a casual chat with a friend over coffee, an email to ask if they’d be interested in your concept, or more in-depth research using surveys and one-to-one interviews. Find out what their pain points are, what they’d want to see in a solution and - possibly most importantly of all - what they’d pay for it.

What does the internet say?

Social media and discussion platforms are often overlooked in market research, but it can be an incredibly useful tool for analysing what your audience wants, their overall sentiment towards your product segment and the problems that they currently face. Again, if you’ve taken the time to figure out who your ideal audience is, you’ll have some sort of idea of where they spend time online. Identify some of these places, looking at things like hashtags, subreddits, Slack channels and the likes, and see what information you can find there. Google Trends can also offer valuable information on what people are searching for and how that’s changed over time.

It’s even better if you can identify some actual people who suit your ideal audience profile and regularly post online. Following these people can provide vital insight into the demand for your startup idea and how your ideal audience ticks.

What’s already available?

Identifying any direct competitors for your startup concept (chances are, they’re out there somewhere) can show you what’s already been done. But it’s not just about what’s out there! Have a look and see how well they’re bringing the concept to life and if there’s any room for improvement. Seek out customer reviews or mentions of their brand and assess where the gaps in their product offering are - maybe you can fill that gap instead.

Is it actually realistic?

Finally, take the time to carefully consider how achievable your concept really is. If it’s going to take a high level of input or large resource to produce, but the target audience is unwilling to pay a price that would cover that cost, then it’s maybe not the most attainable idea to implement. Similarly, if the demand isn’t there then you may struggle to make a success of your idea - no matter how great you think it is.

Validating your startup idea helps reduce the risks and save you from going full speed ahead on an idea that might not necessarily be the best route for you to take. Who knows, maybe your research will throw up something you hadn’t considered and you come away with a brand new idea instead.

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