I have seen too many startup founders waste time and money building a product that is never going to sell profitably. Do you have a product idea that you want to validate before moving forward with it?
Here are 5 ways to determine whether or not your product idea is the one that your audience will pay for.
1. Share your idea with a small group of people
The most common mistake people do when they have an idea is to be secretive about it. They think that they might be the next Steve Jobs and don’t want to share their product idea with anyone for fear of someone else copying it.
The problem is, if you’re not sure whether your product would sell, then how can you go ahead and put all your time and effort into building a business around an unproven concept?
You think you have an innovative idea. But all ideas are thought of already. How much ever you think you are creative, you can’t be the first person to think of it.
The best way to validate an unproven product idea is by sharing it with a small group of people and asking them for honest feedback. This has numerous benefits: you’ll know whether or not they think the product is worth buying, you’ll get a sense of what’s missing from your idea and how to improve it, and you can validate if there are any legal issues before fully investing in its development.
The more you share your idea, the more feedback you’ll get. So you idea becomes better, or if it’s a bad one, you know it immediately, before building it.
2. Find products you already use
Also called as “solve your own problem”. But how do you know it is a problem worth solving? If you are paying for a product to solve your problem, then there might be a few thousands like yourself who would pay for it.
The easiest way to check this is to get out your credit card bills and see what subscriptions you have. See which product is something that you can’t live without. This could be a potential idea that has merit.
It doesn’t mean it will definitely work, but you will have a better chance of validating the product idea. And you can reach out to others who are similar to you.
3. Find Products That Already Exist
This is closely related to the previous point, but one difference is you don’t have to buy/subscribe to it. Basically check out your competition.
Many feel competition is bad, but it can actually be quite useful. It shows that there is a solid problem that people are willing to pay to get solved.
If you see a product with lots of reviews that’s doing well in its niche then this is good validation that there is demand for the product and you should consider entering the market too. Similarly if you find a product that is almost monopolistic and very popular and it has no competition or at least none as strong, again this would be good validation to enter the market.
4. Create a Lite version of the product
I love how many indiehackers start off with small projects and gradually build it up to more ambitious products that sell well.
Non tech startups do this all the time. If you want to open a restaurant, it’s better to test the market with a food truck first.
When you’re testing your product idea, it’s important to remember that scale is not the goal. You want to find out if people like what you have and how much they’ll pay for it. If you can’t sell enough of the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) at a low price point then there’s no need in trying to build a complex product.
You also get feedback pretty fast in a matter of weeks than months.
And it doesn’t have to be just SaaS products. If you are creating a course for example, it is better to create a series of short videos first and start selling them on Udemy or Skillshare. Or release an eBook and sell it on Amazon.
You can also test this product idea by running a Kickstarter campaign to see if people are willing to pay for your product or not. Either way, you’ll get valuable feedback that will help shape and validate your product ideas before investing too much time and money into them.
5. Sell, then build
I would say this is very important as I have burnt my fingers many a times. The first product I launched was an personal search engine for everyone. When we launched, it was the perfect product for ourselves. But we spent 8 months focused on building it, that we couldn’t find anyone to buy it.
If you really want to know whether a product will sell or not, you have to get people to take out their wallets and pay for it. If you can presell it before you even build it, you have a winner.
Selling lifetime deals or beta plans that are available only during development will give your customers the satisfaction of getting in on the product at an early price. And you also get capital to build the product.
Validating a product idea is not easy. There are a lot of things to consider before you get true market validation. But these 5 steps are a great way to begin your journey.
I am interested to know about your product idea. Share it in the comments below and I will reply back with how you can validate it quickly.
Srini is an entrepreneur+developer who realised launching a successful product is much more than building cool features. He has helped numerous startups and businesses build successful businesses for the past 13 years.