“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” — Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn Founder
During the early years of my career, I was always been curious thinking about how these companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and the list goes on and on getting their product and ideas so right that fits the market and more surprisingly customers are ready to pay for them. But as I grew up, I realized that there is something more to it. As I climb my corporate ladder, I got more and more insights into how these companies really work. Also, I took the help of some of the books on startups which really helped me to gain better clarity on this topic. And one book that really helped me discover more about this was “Lean Startup by Eric Thomas”.
But as the saying goes your knowledge is of no use unless you implement that in your life. Learning and gaining knowledge is one thing and implementing it and experiencing it first hand is a different thing altogether. As I get into building the first project I was quite apprehensive about whether someone will pay for it or not. Whether people will like it or not and why they will buy it from me? But since I have read on this subject and read a few of the memoirs of the big corporate giants and how they all started, I realized that all these big companies or organizations started small with a minimum viable product (aks MVP). And even today companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple do a beta release of the product (release only to a specific group of people) for the testing and then they do all the moderation before releasing it for the masses in the world markets.
Research is like motorway lights, it can’t tell you where to go but it can reduce the risk in how you get there.”
Taking the clue from this, I used this hypothesis (it was a hypothesis until I come in terms with it) while testing my idea in the market during the lockdown. So here are the three easy steps that I followed which really helped me in testing my idea in the market and in getting my business idea ready to attract revenue.
1. Target A Specific Set of Customers/Market
Be very clear about which market segment you’re targetting, for whom your product is for. Having this clarity will really help you to test your product better and the early you do the better it is. If you ask me what is the most important factor when you create anything — always keep in mind what problem your product or idea is solving but most importantly for whom.
Always keep in mind your target audience while starting with an idea and then think about how you can build a business around it. So, having this clarity will help you reach out to your customers and it will also help you to save a lot of time while developing and building your product in the early stages.
Start with a small set of people who will be ready to listen to you (later they will be your potential customers) and tell them about the problem you’re solving for them.
2. Start Small, Start Cheap
Early on I use to think to build one’s product or idea we need to have expensive software, experts to put their wisdom behind the idea and a hell lot of business reports, extensive research to make the idea business ready.
But I was quite wrong and then reality set in. Once you get the clarity on your small and specific set of the customer market, bootstrap your idea without any money or if any investment is required then keep it as low as possible because we are still in the research phase and we don’t know whether people are ready to pay for it or not. And this is where you’ll develop another skill that is very important in running a business — “Frugalness”. If you have this already then great but if you not then you’ll thank me later for this.
Don’t worry about the fancy software at the initial stage. Always look for ways where you don’t have to pour too much money when you’re testing your product. There are umpteen free software, platforms online that will let you create or build the basic simple module of your idea or product. Go check them out and try them, it will really help you to save a lot of money and you can utilize that later once you successfully finish with your testing.
If you need any manpower support, then ask your family and friends. They’ll be happy to help, and understanding if not everything goes to plan.
PS: I invested zero money in my idea before I attracted my first paying client because I used some cool free resources. I am sure you also have them too (just open your third eye — your brain).
3. Pivot and Improve
Once you start getting the feedback from some of your marketed customers then use that feedback to pivot your idea or the product as per what your customers have to say. It is so important to stay flexible at the initial stages because we’re not aware of whether the product we are building fits right for the customer. And it is so important to have an open mind during that time. Do small-2 changes and pivot accordingly with the market needs.
While doing that again focus not to invest too much money at that point, utilize your frugalness, and make the changes accordingly. In this way, you can test your idea in a better way and get the most out of the market in order to understand where it stands in the market.
So, these were 3 simple steps that I used while doing research for my idea and to make it market-ready before pouring my time and money into it.