I recently took part in an entrepreneurial startup weekend accelerator, you can read about that here. After that event my thought process has changed with regards to approaching startup ideas and how to go about creating them. I have always been the type of person to enjoy coming up with ideas and how they would work and be created, which I find is a healthy way to exercise our minds.
My original thought process was; come up with an idea, research to see how much competition was out there, what ones market would be, how best to monetize the idea and how to build the platform one would use to carry out this idea. I would regularly find myself going too in-depth thinking about how I could build the platform and thinking about every working part that would need to go into it.
I have come to realise that it is not how the platform would be built or work, it is WHO IS GOING TO USE IT.
You may be thinking that I already mentioned, among other points, I would spend time working out who my market would be. However, there is a big difference between determining who your market will be, and actually knowing the particular target market you identified will be interested in using your service/product.
The most important part of developing any idea and turning it into a business is qualifying your offering by speaking to the people you view as your potential market. Many startups fail due to the fact that they have not done sufficient customer discovery research. It does not come down to figures found from research carried out into a particular market. It comes down to actually going out there, having your potential customers fill out surveys or picking up the phone and speaking to them.
As the age old saying goes “If you build it, they will come”.
Well I say, “If you build it, you better make real sure they come”.
Through the customer discovery process you can learn a great deal more than what research could provide you. While speaking to people that would use your platform you can figure out what truly is important to them, and as they are your target market, covering those bases will always put yourself in a better position than thumb sucking what you feel is important to them.
I was told over the startup weekend: “Never add functionality in unless you have qualified that need”. What this really means is that you may have this grandeur idea of how your platform is going to work, it needs all the bells and whistles to be ahead of the curve or beat out the competition. But if you have not qualified that functionality with the people who would be using it, you should not add it.
Summery: Customer Discovery
When developing your potential startup ideas there are many steps that need to be taken. But if you can do one thing right, it is carrying out customer discovery activities sooner rather than later, because if you can qualify your idea, that is half the battle won already.
Speak to as many people as you can, get as much feedback as possible and be open to change or adapting your idea once you have received feedback.