Throwing Money Away… Learn to Validate

…are you validating your idea before spending money on it.  

I ran a social experiment with members of a Young Entrepreneur Council, where we discussed best practices to validate ideas before spending money. Below are some unique responses:

Use smoke tests.

An easy way to gauge interest in an idea is to run some basic tests. I recommend running a basic Craigslist ad to gauge interest. For example, perhaps you want to start a business around hiring babysitters online. First, place an ad that offers the services. Do people contact you? This is a cheap and effective way to glean feedback on a startup or related ideas.

A good friend of mine says he generally places an idea on a site like LaunchRock, which helps people to quickly set up a “Launching Soon” page. He then invests in Facebook ads and watches click-through rates. If a good number of people sign up, it means there’s real interest, and it’s time to take the next step.

Assess yourself.

Instead of focusing on building products that are simply “cool” or “innovative,” ask yourself if the product is something you would use.  The easiest way to validate an idea, is to first “survey a market of one: yourself.”

Conduct a survey.

Survey Apps like SurveyStud (Yes this is my product (Download from the App Store) can help you gather feedback on your ideas. Create one and share it on your Facebook page, Twitter feed, and LinkedIn profile, or send it out to trusted professionals, friends, former co-workers, students, and family in email blasts. This is another great way to gauge needs, interest, and gaps in specific industries.

Find a mentor or industry advisor.

There are always going to be people who have expertise or experience you lack. Don’t shy away from them–introduce yourself and make a connection. That way, you have a valuable contact in the industry of your choice to determine where the needs are, and how you can address them.

Trust your gut.

It will lead somewhere, maybe it results in a successful product, maybe it won’t. Either way you get a valuable education in what works that will help you later on.

What methods have you used to test your own ideas?

As usual if it seems this or parts of this is plagiarized–it probably is.  Regardless if you find something that’s yours let me know so I can take it down… 

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