DISCLAIMER: Why should you listen to me when it comes down to the validation process? Simple. Since 2015. I am engaged in validating ideas. Some of them were my own, others were friends’ ideas, many were ideas of clients I work with, and the majority were ideas of startups I assist on a daily basis. In more than 90% of cases, I repeat the same advice and give the same tools. Yes, no matter the industry, the validation tools do tend to stay the same. I have worked on 100+ ideas so far. Here are tips and tricks for you. Please note that I am drawing much on my own experience, and there are other ways to go through this process, so feel free to suggest improvements and alterations.
Starting a new idea is cool, very trendy now, and personally exhilarating. However, the process of transforming the idea into a business is long, arduous, and covered with various death traps. Don’t get me wrong, this process can still be fun and very rewarding, but you should be aware of what you are getting into.
The first stop on a journey of converting an idea to a business is idea validation. Validating your business idea is a never ending process, and it consists of several steps, most of them constantly repeating. In this series of articles, I will try to break the validation process down into bits and pieces.
Step 0 is a simple one—define which problem you want to solve and for whom.
This is easier said than done, but my experience taught me that if you don’t put your idea and the entire concept on a piece of paper, you will soon forget where your starting point was. Business Model Canvas and Lean Canvas are two tools that you can use to pencil in your idea.
However, the tool you use is less important, more important is to do it, and the most important is to do it in a simple and clear form that can be easily understandable to you and everyone around you.
The formula for your problem statement should be simple:
We help (X) do (Y) by doing (Z)
- We help dog owners take an extended vacation by providing safe vacay for their pets. – Every dog sitting service
- We help startup organization improve their programs by bringing experts around the world to share their knowledge and experience – Swiss EP
- We help a busy everyday person to get a good and diverse lunch by providing outstanding selection and delivering it to their doorstep – Every food delivery app.
So what do you need to know to make this problem statement sentence work:
- Who do you think your customer is (note: I didn’t write who your customer is) – think about end-users and try to figure out who they are, what they want, how they live. Try to imagine a real person that fits the description.
- Which problem/need will you try to solve – describe the pain and difficulties people have because of this problem/need. How is that stopping them from living a better life?
- How will you help customers solve the problem/need they have – and we have reached the goal. Combine your customers and their pain with the solution you offer, and you will get the sentence you need.
You need to write this down and make sure that 3-4 people around you understand what you plan to do. If they don’t, start over.
That’s it. It is step 0.
Why is it so important? Because business ideas tend to pivot a lot. If you don’t pencil in every iteration (especially starting one), you will forget essential points from the journey you passed.
You might think that there is no way to forget where and why you started something. I beg to differ. So please, just write it down, and you are ready to start validating your idea.
The next step is – Desk research.