The startup framework to validate your idea before you spend 1$

April 22, 2017

 

“If your startup failed, it’s because it didn’t solve a tier 1 problem for a large enough audience — here’s how to never make that mistake again.”


Validating the demand for your product is more important than ANYTHING. More important than features, your team, design, pricing, etc.


Without market validation you’ll have a product that no one will pay for. You’ll burn a lot of time, energy and cash and you’ll end up stressed, probably depressed and definitely burned out.


And that hurts — a lot.


OK so let’s get to it — here’s how to validate your startup idea before you launch. Before you invest or raise $1. Before you hire anyone.


Step 1 — Write down the problem, not a specific solution
You want to be able to clearly articulate a problem that you or others experience regularly. Notice that you’re only focused on the problem here, not any specific solution — that comes later.


You want to be able to write down your problem in a simple statement. A few examples:

  • It’s impossible to follow up with customers once they leave a restaurant

  • It’s hard to determine which customers will churn before they actually do

  • It’s too hard to design professional-quality graphics for social media

You get the idea — keep it basic and refine the problem until you can articulate it with one sentence.


Step 2 — Determine if it’s a tier 1 problem or not
It’s easy to identify problems — they’re everywhere. What you’re really looking for is what I call a “tier 1 problem” — which means the problem you’re looking to solve is one of the top 3 problems your potential customers are experiencing.


Let’s say your (eventual) target buyer is the CEO of a small business. Their top 5 problems might look something like this:

  1. Generate more sales

  2. Get marketing running efficiently (hire a head of marketing)

  3. Outsource our payroll and benefits

  4. Increase our product selection

  5. Get better at social media and invest in Facebook ads

If you’re planning to launch a social media tool, you can see that’s NOT a tier 1 (top 3) problem for the typical CEO of a small business — it’s #5 on their list.


They’ll be so focused on solving their first 3 problems that you’ll never get a look in — EVEN if you have the best product, EVEN if you have the best support, etc.


They simply won’t have time (or budget) for you if you’re not solving a problem that’s top of mind for them — a tier 1 problem.


This is probably the hardest lesson to learn and the one most startup founders ignore — “But my product is so great, once they use it they’ll sign up for SURE!!!”.

 

 

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