What is Idea Validation?

Idea validation is the process of testing and validating your idea prior to launching your business name, tagline, product, service or website. This is like the research and development process big companies use to test product ideas before they’re released to the general public.

Idea validation can involve anything from information-gathering interviews to special landing pages on the web. The entire purpose is to expose the idea to your target audience before you build and release the final product.

I personally think the best way to conduct the idea validation process is face-to-face, in person or over a Skype video call. The advantages will be highlighted below.

Why Should I Do this Idea Validation Thing?

In short, it will save you a ton of time and money, as well as generate interest in your idea. Since you’re testing your idea, you will be exposing it to the marketplace.

Here Are Some Tips to Idea Validation in the Real World

Idea validation is fairly easy but it will require some hustle on your part. In order to best demonstrate how to do this, I’ll be using my own experience as a running example.

Don’t ask Family and Friends

We all want to feel good about what we are doing so sometimes we ask our loved ones about our ideas knowing that it will feel good.

I’m not saying that your family and friends are liars. I’m saying that they are biased and in most cases not one of your potential customers.

They also might feel forced to give feedback for feedback’s sake. They might even make up a point they don’t really believe in so you feel like they’re being unbiased. Do you see how tricky asking family and friends about this can get?

Determine your target audience

Before going to talk to customers you have to decide who you should talk to – your target audience.

Questions for defining your market:

  • Is your customer a business or a consumer?
  • If business, what size business are they? 5 people? 50 people? 100 people?
  • Where are they? Where do they spend their time? This can be a physical location, online community, etc.
  • What do they care about?
  • What kind of language do they use?

One important thing to keep in mind. Being more descriptive about your target market early on is better. Focus on a smaller group of people. It’s better to have 10 people who are passionate about what you’re doing than 100 people who don’t truly care.

Interview Them

When I mention interviewing, I’m not talking about a cursory conversation (or worse, a survey). Start with a list of questions but deviate from the questions as you learn more information. Approach the conversation with a sense of curiosity about the customer’s problem and needs, and you’ll get some really valuable insight.

Ask “Why?”

“Why?” is by far the most important question you can ask. With it you can get closer to the truth from customers. Unfortunately this question isn’t used often enough — too many people ask a question, and then take the answer at face value. It’s a missed opportunity to understand motivation and validate what someone would really do.


Find the Value Proposition

I encourage entrepreneurs to focus less on features and more on explaining the value proposition for their product. What does that mean? A value proposition is the expected gains that a customer would receive from using your product. Value can be quantitative, such as time saved or additional revenue earned. Measuring this is usually straightforward.

To validate your new business idea:

  • Define your target audience
  • Look for where your audience is hanging out naturally
  • Conduct user interviews
  • Keep the interviews light and casual
  • DON’T try to pitch users on your idea
  • Look for patterns
  • Look at past spending habits

Thanks for reading the post, I hope it was helpful!