Having people tell you that your idea sucks, hurts. Plain and simple, that is not a good feeling as a startup or as a person with an idea in general. On the other hand, people telling you that your idea is great but not actually meaning it is much, much worse. While it may feel good to hear that the work you are doing is ‘cool’ or “yeah, I’d buy that”. This false sense of validation can crush your business and have you investing in a product that no one actually wants, they just wanted to make you feel better.
When you and your company are in the idea validation phase you must look past all the bad and biased data. These can come from the people that will be more likely to support your endeavors and projects because they like you as a person. Take This Example from The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick; “There are three types of bad data: Compliments, fluff (generics), and ideas” To clarify, ask the right questions and the right people to avoid these types of response because they can skew your results and make them look better than they actually are. Asking the right people the right questions will provide you with answers and supporters who will actually help to validate your ideas with proper feedback and useful data.
At the end of the day, the goal is to see if your idea is actually valid and worth pursuing. It all comes down to the questions you ask and who you ask them to.
Are you fulfilling a need in your space?
Asking the correct questions is the first step to validating your idea in the proper way. Not only do you have to ask yourself questions to keep yourself on track, but the feedback that isn’t biased is vital to the way you move forward in the development process.
Having the correct kind of validation is very important to ideas in the development phase. For most people, they love to hear that their idea is great, or that people can’t wait to hear about it, but all that feedback does it temporarily make you feel good, it doesn’t progress the business.
When you do get actual support from people who will invest in your project or business that’s when you will see real growth. When you ask close-ended questions such as “is this good?” or “do you like my idea?” it traps people into feeling obligated to provide you positive feedback out of fear of hurting you. Instead some questions you can ask to get better results are “How do you currently solve this problem” or “Is this problem something you would pay to solve or have fixed?” Those questions will produce results and generate ideas and useful feedback that will excel your business past the validation phase because you can now see there is a need for something and that people would be willing to pay for a solution. And that’s where you come in.
In terms of commitment, consumers must show you they are serious by giving up something valuable to them such as time or money. When people are willing to give something up that they value to solve a problem or stressor in their lives, that proves to you as the business that you can fulfill a need for people and that you will have people willing to commit to your product and business. In this phase you most likely won’t have the ability to show off prototypes or sell pre-orders, but what you can do is get a commitment by adding them to an email list or a pre-pre-order list. By doing these things you have grown your fans and gained people who want to have a part in your success because in return they will get to use your product because they see benefit in it existing.
Customers and supporters who keep being friendly yet are passive fans of your business are potentially dangerous.
These people can give you a false sense of support as they will never actually buy your product or service. They will create a false sense of success for you and make you feel like you are progressing and gaining fans when in reality, these people are just hanging around and not actually helping you out. While those people can be harmful, they can also be helpful by supporting your online content and sharing it to their followers.
Take your grandma for example, if she uses facebook she is going to like all your posts and comment on everything no matter what, because she’s your grandma and that’s what she does. Now say you have a facebook page for your business and you tell your grandma about it. What is she going to do? She’s definitely going to like, comment, and share all of your posts because she loves you and wants to support you ambitions and dreams even if she can’t actually help you grow or doesn’t really support what you’re doing. Grandmas are great and their support on social media is very kind and sweet but. Be careful to not let that go to your head. The real supporters are people who are willing to give up and make a sacrifice that will impact their lives as well as the life of your business. Those people are the ones who will buy into your product and support you on a more personal level and help you be successful.
To advance your ideas and business requires the right kind of people at your side. While people who may help to lift you up and make you feel good about what you are doing are great, the real strength lies in those who will show their support in more concrete ways. Seek out the people who will commit to you and your business and provide you with true validation so that you can advance and grow even bigger.