Leaving the building and starting conversations with your target customers as early as possible it solid advice. It’s commonly mentioned the startup crowd – and for a good reason – but it is rarely followed because it’s so difficult for entrepreneurs.
The wrong way
The most common flight path for an entrepreneur seems to be:
- Come up with “great idea”
- Keeping everything TOP SECRET
- Spending way too long on it
- Getting very few or 0 customers
The Right Way
Instead, leave the building and start interacting with the market face-to-face. Even before you’ve built the product; even before you’ve designed the logo; even before you’ve paid $1000s for the patent.
Works for any industry
This is the same for new products and it’s the same for not getting enough sales. The idea is to start a conversation – not a sales pitch, but a dialogue about what they struggle with and what they’d be willing to pay for. Do a lot of listening and ask open-ended questions. Don’t ask “would you buy this” right away. Instead more of “how big of a problem is that for you?” and “What if someone came up with a solution?”.
If you do have a proposed solution, the ultimate test is money. Is it big enough of a problem that they’re willing to put a down-payment to be one of the first to get the product you’re building? If not, figure out why and find something that is.
Minimum viable products
Instead of a long build-cycle, try showing wire-frames for software or a mockup that doesn’t do much but shows the shape and feel of the product. Create a landing page that explains the benefit with a graphic representation of the product.
You have a guarantee
The one guarantee is that after talking to 20-40 people in your market, you will have learned something valuable. You don’t have that guarantee if you stay inside the building.
- Ease: Hard
- Cost: Free
- Scope: Small
- Speed: Slow
- Reach: City