7 Ways to Test Your Idea for Free and Gather Feedback from Real Customers
Test your business idea without risk
You can start testing a niche without even having a product in stock or employees to provide services.
- goods from China;
- agricultural goods;
- cargo transportation;
- renovation of apartments or cars;
- manicure, cosmetology and massage;
- organization of weddings and other events.
What Niche Testing Gives You
By making a test one page site and running minimal ads, you can:
- evaluate the number of incoming calls and requests;
- get feedback from customers;
- better understand their needs in order to increase the conversion of the site.
For example, thousands of various landing pages are currently running on the Nethouse platform. Here are some examples:
kotel-kolonka. u - supply of gas heating equipment
A simple landing page can be done in a couple of hours. And if the test is successful, then already invest time and money in creating a full-fledged website.
Stages of Testing a Business Idea
One of the most difficult tasks is evaluating business ideas. The difficulty, as a rule, does not lie in limiting the options, but in deciding which idea is worth spending time and money on, and which is better to put aside. In this article, we will consider a simple algorithm for testing ideas and choosing a business model.
Of course, you can rely on intuition. Moreover, business literature is full of examples of stories when a person acted on a whim and, as a result, achieved success. Meanwhile, most companies close in their first five years, and their experience rarely ends up in the books. So why not find out if your idea is really promising before spending time and money on its implementation?
We present an instruction on how to test a business idea for consistency.
Describe your idea in minutes
Formulate the main points of your business idea. Answer the questions:
Take no more than 30 minutes to answer these questions. It is enough to express thoughts in the volume of one page. This is preparation for the next stages, where you will test the business idea for consistency in the real world.
Talk to potential clients
Incredibly, this step is ignored by most aspiring entrepreneurs. When you consider the opinions of potential customers, the chances of failure are significantly reduced. So go out and start communicating with people.
First of all, you need to determine if people really understand the problem that you have identified. And do they really consider it a problem.
… The idea of creating a store appeared in 2021, when new spare parts began to appear on the market. Until 2021, I worked as a repairman for washing machines, and each time I had to “invent a bicycle”. At that time, there were simply no new parts. And when I came across new spare parts on the market, I realized that they are somewhere, that is, they can be obtained. And I also realized that they were needed not only for me as a washing machine master, but also for other people, specialists in the repair of large and small household appliances, which means that you can open a store and sell them.
Ask how people are currently solving the problems they face. What they would like to improve, what they like and dislike about the products and services they use.
Interview as many people as possible. Use social networks, forums, special services for conducting surveys (Yandex. View, testograf. U, etc.). Finally, walk around town and chat with people in person.
Edit the assumptions recorded in the first step. Perhaps you will correct or even completely change not only the wording of the problem, but also the list of prospective competitors.
Alex Osterwalder has been studying business modeling for so long that he discovered the formula for project success. Here it is, in the picture below. You take a mature and successful idea, turn it into a business model, formulate a value proposition, and voila! Your project is flourishing successfully.
The idea doesn't even have to be unique: when Steve Jobs announced the first iPod, there were already portable players in the world. But now no one will remember only their names. Apple managed to overtake the competition because its business model and value proposition were better. In addition to the fashionable device, it provided a huge and open music library.
If you want your projects, startups and businesses to succeed, we advise you to pay attention to Osterwalder's books. Moreover, the long-awaited novelty has come out - "Testing of Business Ideas".
How to formulate successful business ideas
This is a cyclical process: first, you and your team generate a large number of ideas, then you make quick prototypes to weed out a part, and evaluate them from the point of view of the buyer. And then either go to the second round, or go for testing.
This approach is somewhat reminiscent of design thinking: quick testing of ideas, so as early as possible to understand whether or not to continue working on them. Osterwalder adds business model and value proposition templates to it - they are like prototypes that you can fill out and quickly evaluate the success of an idea.
This is where three steps follow on the path to a successful and profitable project:
- Generate an idea.
- Apply hypotheses to completed business model and value proposition templates.
- Test them.
In the picture below, hypotheses are superimposed on a business model: this way you can quickly understand whether your idea is needed by someone in the market, whether you can pull it off and whether it will bring money.
Why test ideas
You have come up with an interesting product, collected start-up capital and even developed a development strategy for several years ahead. But like anyone, you want to insure yourself against failure and loss. Try to postpone the full start and run a draft version of the product. The editors of Svoye Delo together with experts figured out what MVP is and why it is useful for small business
What is MVP
Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a product with a limited set of functions, but sufficient to test its performance. With the help of MVP, an entrepreneur can test his idea before starting a business or a separate direction: assessing the demand, analyzing demand, studying customer feedback. This is one way to minimize the risk of failure and loss. Such a test can be carried out with minimal or even zero cost.
This model can be used to test the demand for automated digital services, such as finding a home cleaning cleaner on request in an app. In the MVP stage, entrepreneurs solve their customers' problems manually. If the testing is successful, they proceed to the development of the platform or application.
This is what Marika Chusova, the founder of the New Practice service for the selection of psychotherapists, did. In May 2021, before launching, she interviewed potential customers on personal pages in social networks and in thematic groups, and also published two paid posts for one and a half thousand rubles. Thanks to the answers, she realized that people who want to get the help of a psychotherapist are interested in the service of finding a specialist.
Chusova agreed with several experts and prepared a questionnaire for clients. She told about her idea in social networks. In response, subscribers filled out a questionnaire. Then Marika referred them to the right specialist.
In March 2021, Chusova launched the website. She invested 80 thousand rubles in its development. According to her, the experience of communicating with clients helped to develop an algorithm that selects specialists. Now there are more than 70 of them in the project base. The proceeds of the "New Practice" are formed thanks to the commission that psychotherapists pay for each attracted client.
This model can be used to test the demand for an online or offline product. This type of MVP is suitable for online stores, platforms with online courses, etc. At the end of 2021, the PAD Team, which is creating an MVP, tested an idea for the production and sale of healthy snacks.
Entrepreneurs have developed a recipe, prepared a design and a product description. PAD Team employees launched a landing page where the user could leave an application and fill out a questionnaire. On the basis of this data, a ration was drawn up for the client. “We received applications from 138 users, 32 of them filled out the questionnaire. The customer concluded that there is a demand for his product and launched the first test batch, ”says Andrey Grigoriev, founder of PAD Team.
Mark MacDonald, co-founder of Appster, spoke on Medium. om about how you can test your product idea for almost free and get feedback from real consumers. We publish an abridged translation of his note.
I would like to share with you some effective methods that will come in handy if you want to test whether your idea is marketable before launching the product.
Before using these methods, you need to:
- Have some kind of tangible mockup or product sketch for presentation. Even if your product exists for the time being, mostly in words, consumers need to show something to make them feel connected to the idea.
- Learn to communicate clearly and understandably about your product and the problem it will solve. Use simple language that even a student can understand.
- Think carefully about the questions you want to ask your audience. Before you “go out into the field,” ask your loved ones to check if this is really the information you want to get from consumers.
- Abstract your idea so that you can discuss it with an open mind. You should not sell or advocate an idea, but present it in a neutral way to gather valuable objective feedback.
So here are seven free (or near-free) ways to test the value of your idea before you go out to market and launch a product.
Testing at Starbucks
- Take some money and go to Starbucks or any other cafe.
- Walk up to a visitor and politely explain the situation. Tell him, “I'm sorry, do you have a minute to help me? At the end of the week, my brother quits his job and is going to put all his savings into our startup. Let me buy you coffee, tell you our idea, and you honestly say, what do you think of it? No catch. All I need is your sincere feedback. "
- State your idea objectively. Speak slowly and clearly, looking into the other person's eyes. Be friendly, but don't show too much enthusiasm. Show any visuals for the project that you have with you.
- Ask the other person what they think of your idea. If he or she tries to support her in every possible way to please you, say: "Can you name three reasons why this idea might fail?" Try to make the interlocutor think about the idea first, and not about the history of its creation. Listen carefully to everything that is said to you, and in no case argue.
- Thank the interlocutor and wish him a good day.
- Repeat steps 2-5 until you run out of money. If you feel like you haven't collected enough reviews, withdraw more cash and keep working.
This method allows you to hear criticism of your project, which will help you bring it to perfection.
Web Direct Mail
Internet entrepreneur and venture capitalist Tony Shay recruited his first clients via a regular mailing list. He then sold his company to Microsoft for $ 265 million and founded the more successful firm Zappos.
Noah Kagan, founder of AppSumo, used a similar method and therefore believes that personal communication with customers is important in the early days of a startup.
You can establish direct contacts with clients using the Internet. Here's what you need to do: