A colleague reached out to me last week asking for advice about a plan for a startup. He had an idea for a new venture based on problems he was experiencing at his own company and came up with a solution he believed would fix it. Not only that, he felt relatively confident that other businesses would benefit from this tool as well. He reached out to ask how to build a technology product. He told me about his solution, why he felt it was important, and how he wanted it designed. When I asked how he’s measuring and testing the solution, he said he needed to build the product in order to test it. I stopped him right there. It’s true that there’s no way to test a complete solution without first building it. But it is possible to test the foundational concepts to ensure the product is directionally correct and statistically significant. I would argue that it is vital to do this before perfecting your technology. It’s hard to build a startup! It’s near impossible to do it when your product doesn’t solve a problem consumers are facing or solves it in a way that is not helpful for consumers. Before investing time, energy, and money into building the technology you think is needed, take the time to attain data quickly so you have confidence in your end solution. Early concept testing can help you recognize if your product is solving a different issue than the one you set out to fix, if you need to pivot your idea in order to meet consumer needs, if you should make any adjustments before actually building, or if small changes will create better results in the end. And here’s something else to keep in mind: if early testing does not offer significant results, it doesn’t mean your initial idea was a bad one or won’t work. But the more open you are to iterating your idea based on collected data and the more time you put into gathering that data initially, the more success you’ll see in the long run.
So no matter where you are in your business journey, I invite you to pause and think about what you could be testing now, what makes you wonder, and what ways you think you could be doing it differently for your customers. Interested in diving in? Want to test your product but unsure where to start? I love this stuff. Reach out and let’s have a conversation! Who knows… maybe that will be the topic of the next post!