Look to your friends, family and colleagues.
People love to gossip and complain, and this is prime research material for figuring out annoying problems people may be facing in their lives. Now take things with a grain of salt as people tend to exaggerate stories, but there’s always a grain of truth somewhere. Speaking to your own family and friends helps you gain insight into perspectives from multiple ages and demographics. Oftentimes the problems that you may find, may come from a collection of multiple small details and events. Take advantage of your social nights having dinner or drinks with friends to do research and gain valuable insights on pain points. If you’ve exhausted your network, expand it - the easiest way to find problems is just to listen.
Scour online forums and question sites like Quora & Reddit.
In our digital age, aside from telling your friends about your problems, the other go-to solution for help is to either ask for help on online forums or sites, or rant on them. This is valuable material to offer insights of larger, more macro problems. For example, if there’s a lot of people asking for help in working with colleagues that speak different languages, and there isn't a clear cut solution being offered, that’s an insight you could then build upon.
Interest does not mean you’re solving a problem.
Great, so you’ve come up with a rough idea of a problem or product and you want to test it. Well, while early interest may suggest that there is an audience that is willing to interact with your ads or socials, it doesn’t necessarily mean the product is viable. However interest is still a really good sign that you can use to show traction to secure early investment.
Alternatively, focus on validating the problem you’ve unearthed through a series of interviews and discussion with potential customers, and using techniques like Ethnography, Emotional Journaling and Journey Mapping. These provide valuable insights that will help predict the sustainability of this business in the future. If a business solves a real need, it can last, if not, even if there’s sales, it’s likely to be a fad.
Your Most Valuable Player is your Minimum Viable Product.
If you’ve ever attended an innovation masterclass hosted by your school or work, you’ve probably had to prototype something. So work towards building the minimum version of your product in order to do proper tests and market research. Create simple tests for each feature to validate your solution and problem and also understand the user better.
You can also consider Wizard of Oz (WoZ) testing, where you work behind the scenes to simulate the product, for example by replacing the AI in a chatbot, or manually drawing from different resources rather than coding an app initially. This allows you to spend less time and money upfront before knowing if a product is viable for the market.
Test early, test often, and never ever stop.
There’s countless options available to test and validate your problems and target customers early in the business. One test is not enough, and the more you test, the more insights you gain that will help you continually refine your business and ensure sustainability in the long term. Even as the business continues to grow, testing helps you ensure you’re continuing to provide value and maintaining your sustainability.
If you’re still stuck on how to start your business, check out our free lean business template and tips on how to plan out your business.
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