Every great product that we use today started with an idea. An Apple computer started with Steve Jobs’ idea to make personal computers more intuitive. A GoPro camera started with Nick Woodman’s idea to create high quality films using a point-and-shoot camera while surfing.
Most likely, if you’re reading this article, you have an idea, too. You might be thinking of starting your own startup and conquering the world. At work, you probably dream of handing your resignation letter to your oppressive boss and announcing, “I’m starting my own company.”
Aimed with your enthusiasm and your big idea, you now want to take the next step. Find investors, start hiring people, and rent an office space.
This kind of attitude and ambition is admirable. Only a few people in the world are willing to take risks and take a leap of faith.
Test Your Idea
But before making your idea into a full fledged company, there is something you must do first. This is a step that you should never skip if you truly want to run a sustainable and successful business: test your idea.
Is it truly solving a real problem for a group of people? Is your idea marketable?
Along with your idea, you must also test all of your assumptions–the trivial and the risky ones.
Dharmesh Shah of OnStartups had a great idea for an app. But admittedly, he failed. In his post “The Most Important Thing to Do Before Building Your Startup”, he writes:
The failure wasn’t due to a poorly designed solution; our app simply didn’t solve for a real human need.
There’s a silver lining though: he discovered the importance of validating ideas and assumptions. He continues:
Testing the riskiest assumption at the very start of the project reduces the time it takes to find the biggest flaws in an idea and increase the speed at which we can find a better, more viable alternative.
Now, it’s your turn to test your ideas and assumptions. Here are a few questions to get you started:
- How did you come up with the idea? Was it because you are trying to solve a problem in your industry?
- Do other people in your industry have the same problem?
- What are the solutions that they are using now?
- Is your idea going to be so much better?
- What are your assumptions? How can you validate them?
By testing the marketability of your idea and validating assumptions, you can save time and effort. This is not a method to stop your dream and your big ideas. This is a way to keep on improving them.
A Series of Tests
At the end of 2016, my co-founder and I took a leap of faith. We started a new startup. First, we followed our intuition and later on we validated our assumptions. We had an idea to build a marketplace for live streamers. Businesses can go to the marketplace and book live streamers that can produce great Facebook live content.
Here’s how we validated our idea:
We created a short video explaining how our marketplace works. It featured one broadcaster (me!) and even included the price. We then ran a Facebook Lead ad where we got the name, email, and phone number. In 48 hours, 25 businesses from different cities in the US and UK signed up. It was a hit!
The tests didn’t stop there. We devised a series of tests to validate our assumptions about every aspect of our startup–from the target market we should focus on to the specific services we should offer on the marketplace.
If you have an idea–despite the tangible results of the tests and validations–you have to follow your gut and do your thing.
It’s only by making it a reality that you’ll know whether your idea is going to succeed. It’s okay if you fail along the way. It is in failing that you learn the most valuable lesson that you need in order to succeed in your next business venture.
You’re the only one who knows which route to take.
Should you keep your idea in a box, put it in the basement, and let it gather dust? Or should you take it out for a ride?