A start-up cannot start without an idea behind it – the reason for its existence. Coming up with an idea to base an entire business on means that it has to be right. From being viable to adding value to the community, it must encompass them all.
What makes your start-up idea right is if it solves a problem that is real and present. If it does, the next step would be determining viability. Making sure the business can run is essential. Last, yet very important, is the way the idea would help you get fruitful returns and make money.
Ideally, getting all this done by investing only what is absolute necessary would make any business-runner very happy. One common way to do this would be by creating a prototype, running it, and tabulating results and feedback.
The downside of this is the high cost that the start-up would have to bear, which would burn a considerable hole in their starting budget.
However, there are several other ways to find out if you are on the right track with your start-up idea. Here are four helpful steps to follow.
Step 1: Clearly state what your product is and show it. This could be through your social media presence or website. It could even be via slides if the pitch is going to be face to face.
Step 2: Find your minimum viable segment (MVS). This is the audience who are facing the problem you intend to solve and who can be reached out to generally in the same way. Your product needs to be saleable enough to appeal to the big market segment and target audience you are looking at.
The solution you are presenting has to be for your audience as a whole, not customised. A start-up cannot afford or maintain giving out tailor-made answers.
Step 3: Get a gauge of the sales you could make. Target your MVS by getting your message out to them via social media and platforms which you feel they most actively follow.
In the case of this method not working well, collecting contact information from future customers and assuring them that you will get in touch once your prototype is functional is a recommended alternative. Obtaining their numbers or emails is definitely easier than getting their money, however.
For in-person sales, asking your customers a few questions to have some information to work with before pitching your product would be an effective technique.
Step 4: One of the greatest assets you can have is feedback data, and interviews are the best way to go about collecting it. Bear in mind that there is a chance that the feedback you get is not the feedback you desire.
In this case, repeat the process. Repeat the information you are presenting to your customers. Keep at it till you gather positive data that shows that your solution is necessary and solves a prevalent problem.
You need to be flexible enough to be open to new learnings while following these steps. Do not strictly stick to what you think you know, and do not push your customers towards a solution that seems unnecessary to them. You need to constantly test and find new results to come to the most comprehensive and accurate conclusions.
Now that you have the tools to ensure that your idea is right, you need the ones that will help validate it. Here are some guide points to look at to make sure you are on your desired path.
KYC – Know Your Competitor(s)
After successfully completing the first and most important step of making sure that your idea is a solution that solves an existing problem – but before implementing it – researching and studying your competition is crucial.
Understand their brand and the solution they are offering. Only through a thorough comprehension of your competitors can you then think of how to set yourself apart – how to secure a solid unique selling point.
Determine who the perfect buyer for you is
Earlier I mentioned interviewing your potential customers to gain valuable market insights. You will notice – the more data you gather – that some information could be quite repetitive. These repeating nuggets are what form the personality of your ideal buyer. Not only does this help you eliminate most target markets, you will also find out which type of audience exactly to focus your efforts on.
Know if your idea can be monetised
Wanting to solve a prevalent problem is a noble thought, but you will not be doing yourself or your customers any favours if you have to shut down due to your inability to make money.
To prevent this, make sure from the very start that you have a viable revenue model. You can do so by analysing the results from your initial qualitative and quantitative validation stages.
Develop and test your main features
Imagine a Whatsapp where you could not send emojis, or even share a funny link you want to send to your family and friends. I cannot speak for you, but I definitely would turn to another texting platform if that were the case.
Without these core features, the product fails to deliver what it promised, resulting in customers turning away from it.
Test your main functions to answer the questions you will most likely have about your product’s functionality and viability. More importantly, use this stage to find out whether your product truly works as the solution to the problem you are trying to solve.
Have a clear vision for your start-up
As time passes and your start-up progresses, your idea and vision may fluidly change form to adapt to everchanging dynamics. Hardly any companies have a clear map to follow from the get go, but with time, your goals will become more defined.
Once this happens, you will be able to create the path that will take your start-up to your desired level of achievement. The picture will become clearer once you start gaining traction.
Though this article essentially only addresses two steps – making sure you have the right idea and validating it – there are several checkpoints that have to be ticked in order to make sure these steps are achieved satisfactorily.
If you do not address these vital initial stages first, the rest of your start-up journey would be based on an unstable, underdeveloped foundation. Getting these down to perfection, however, would definitely prove as a great start to getting your start-up to the peaks of success.