TL;DR I don’t know
So you have a whole bunch of ideas, and a number of projects you’re eager to get working on. But you only have so many hours in the day, so you need to be discerning with what you’re going to spend them on. Begging the question, how do you decide what the right thing – or things – to be working on are?
In the early days (pre-sales) how can you go about working that out?
How can you get validation and feedback on your ideas?
And why does seeking validation and feedback matter?
To answer the last question first, aside from my aforementioned point that we only have so many hours in a day, and this is a matter of deciding what to spend them on – the other reason it’s important to gather validation and feedback is to de-risk your new venture as much as possible. Seeking out its potential pitfalls and working out if and how they can be worked around or dealt with is essential. Are they deal breakers?
With regards to how you get validation and feedback, I have tried a number of things. Things like surveys, launching a beta product with test users, simply asking for feedback and just chatting to people.
With the surveys, I set up a Typeform account, incentivised them with a giveaway and posted them on Twitter and Facebook. It’s hard to say whether this ‘worked’. It certainly wasn’t an overwhelming success. On the one hand, between the two platforms, I only received 11 responses. Not really substantial enough to prove or disprove anything. On the other hand, the responses I did get were really thought through. The respondents had clearly thought about the questions and the insights they gave me were extremely useful. And I was so grateful for that.
I definitely believe in the power of surveys, but for me anyway, getting the volume of response in the early days when you’re only just setting about building an audience is extremely challenging.
Next, launching the beta product and asking for feedback. This is a great way to test an idea, especially online where all the early adopters are waiting, hungry for the latest product to try. These guys are unlikely to be your long term customers, as by nature they’re always in search of the new, and better, solutions on the market. But because they try and test so much stuff all the time, they are extremely expert at finding all the little bugs, and flaws in logic, and more than happy to send their feedback. These people are total gems helping innovators everywhere develop their thinking and products.
Chatting to people. As with anything in our world, talking to people, in real life, is the best way to get feedback on an idea. We communicate so much with our body language, that you miss a lot of meaning when you are only receiving email, chat messages, survey responses and the like. You also have the opportunity to discuss back and forth with the natural flow of conversation not as easily achieved online.
At the end of the day however, the real answer to ‘how do you know if you’re working on the right thing’ is – you don’t. All we’re really trying to do is collect as much information as possible to make assessments on the probability of success. Naturally as the facts, and information we receive changes, so too does our opinion. This gives way to enabling us to make tweaks and changes to counteract and work with new information, to improve the offering and product. But of course, it also gives way to doubt.
We’re only ever dealing with odds, and these change constantly. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
It’s not easy!
How about you? How do you go about assessing the potential of your ideas? How do you decide which to work on and which not to?
As ever, if you’ve any thoughts give me a shout @beankind.