There’s a reason you’re always talking about your product idea with friends and family. You know there’s something there. You feel it in your gut. But do your potential customers feel the same way?
There’s only one way to find out—and that’s through product validation, sometimes referred to as market validation. It’s crucial to your business. Validating your product will not only show you if there is a market for your product, it can also save you a lot of time and money.
What Is Product Validation?
Product validation is the process of going out into the market to discover if your customers really want or need the solution you’re envisioning. As an entrepreneur, you may have an idea for a product that you think is great, but that doesn’t mean it’s something people are actually going to buy.
Until you get out of the building and talk to prospective users, everything about your product is just an assumption. As Steve Blank, retired Silicon Valley entrepreneur-turned-educator, explains, “You may be smart, but you are not smarter than the collective intelligence of your potential customers.” In other words, while it’s important to make assumptions about how you will create, deliver, and capture value for your product, it’s even more important to create a feedback loop where you test your hypotheses with actual prospective customers.
The Value of Product Validation
So what does product validation really accomplish and why is it so important? Here’s what you need to know.
1. It takes the guesswork out of the equation.
The biggest mistake you can make is to assume what customers want or need and then invest your resources into building a product based on those assumptions. This approach is painful and counter-productive, and it can be costly. Whether through customer discovery interviews or surveys, you have to spend time understanding the customers’ behaviors, challenges, and how they’re currently trying to solve the problem. You need to truly understand the pain your prospective customers feel before you can develop the type of solution that would help alleviate it.
2. It helps you listen—and connect—to your customers.
Your customers are the ones who will buy your product, so you need to listen to their needs and wants in order to make your product a success. When you reach out to customers and consider their feedback, you are demonstrating that you care about them. Listening not only helps you build a better product, it also helps create trust with your customers before your product is even on the market. That trust will go a long way in customer loyalty and help you create a build-measure-learn feedback loop to continue iterating on your product with the customer top-of-mind.
3. It lets you know whether or not you should spend time and money building your product.
If you build a product without going through the validation process and talking to customers first, you are bound to end up spinning your wheels—and losing a lot of money while doing so. And the fact is, as a startup, you probably don’t have a lot of money to begin with. Product validation decreases your monetary risk before you even begin to build. It also helps you know where to spend more of your resources when you do begin to build.
4. It can help you improve upon your idea and make it a better fit for the market.
When you’re validating an idea, you’re making sure there’s a market for it, as well as a demand for it. And there’s a good chance that your first round with product validation doesn’t hit the mark. But that’s exactly why you are going through the process. The information you get from your customers will help you tweak your product and make it a better fit for your audience.
The Bottom Line
Validating your product can enable you to reasonably predict whether people will buy it, as well as whether your business will be profitable. While it’s impossible to ensure 100 percent success of your product before its actual launch, the process of product validation can considerably increase your chances.
According to entrepreneur, product manager, and web developer Dave Sloan, you should not be married to your original idea and assume the market will come around to your way of thinking. Sloan explains that you must, “Listen to your data. Be a student first and entrepreneur second. If customer feedback is inspiring you to build a solution, now you’re ready to think about building.”
Want to learn more about the product validation process? The experts at Harmony Venture Labs can help. Visit us to learn more about the services that HVL offers and how you can connect with our team.