Coming up with an awesome idea for an app, something that is worthy of putting time into and actually building, comes with a certain kind of hope and pride. You have finally figured out that million dollar idea! One of the biggest problems with this, you don’t really want your awesome idea to be shot down before you have had a chance to prove it.
So you spend a stack of money to get things set up, prototypes made, ground work laid ready for your big introduction to the world. You send it out for user testing, ready to be showered with praise and have stacks of cash thrown at you.
Then you realize you missed something. That key piece of information that could make or break your product. That curve ball you never saw coming. People just don’t seem as interested as you thought they would be.
It’s amazing how far you can get without actually checking to see if anyone wants to use it.
People are scared of being shot down.
But for some reason, companies fail all the time because they spend all their money making something no one actually needs/wants.
The thing is, you can avoid that curve ball by simply asking if there is actually an audience for your product.
We surround ourselves with like minded people. They are the people we get along with best. We get advice from our closest friends, the people we trust, but what about everyone else. The people we don’t get along with.
David gray talks about the idea of liminal thinking, and becoming trapped inside your own beliefs and logic. It can be so hard to understand how people think differently to you. How they could possible vote for that guy rather than your guy. Your reasoning is a product of everything your have ever experienced in your life up until this point. Everyone has had a different experience to you.
Point is, your friends will generally agree with you. You need to know if you can sell your product to people outside your friends circle. Unless you have 2,000,000 facebook friends. If thats the case you’re probably ok.
Get out of the building!!
Steve Blank says the key to a successful startup is to “get out of the building”! Go find out if it’s worth the effort. Understand your market. This allows you to make decisions based on real data. Real people.
A lot of the time, your idea is probably great and will generate interest, but by researching the market and asking real people, you might find that changing a feature or adding something might take your concept to the next level. You might also find that there is some part of the app that are just not worth doing.
Now you can focus on what is really important to get started with.
Ok, so how do I do that?
Well, there are lots of different ways to find things out.
First up, put together a survey. Ask some key questions about users motivations and pain points relating to your idea. Find out what problems people actually want solved. This will set you off in the right direction. There are lots of great services to help get your questions in to the hands of the right people. Just make sure you don’t limit your questions to your circle of friends. Avoid your logic bubble.
Another good step, once you have a bit of an idea is to set up some landing pages. You could set up a couple with different themes and ideas to see what gets the best results. Pay a few dollars to spread it around facebook. You don’t have to give away the game just yet, just create something that is similar to your idea. It can be a fake concept with a fake name, but if people are hitting the page and signing up for the emails, then thats a great sign.
Building a travel app? Go to an airport and ask some travelers.
Building a cafe app? Go to some cafes and offer to buy people a coffee if they answer a few questions or take a look at some concepts with you.
One of the hardest parts about all this, you are not trying to sell them your idea. You are trying to work out if your idea is any good. You need to listen, not talk people into believing what you think. That’s called sales and you can worry about that later.
Go ask some real people. Validate your idea, build the thing that people actually want. Guessing can cost an awful lot of money so try to minimize it.