Q: How can you get serious feedback on your ideas in the initial stages of your business?
A: Find experts in your network. “Find folks with expertise or deeper knowledge in the industry or concept you’re building your business around. Get on a call with them or grab some coffee to get validation on the idea before you actually build anything. Gauge interest in the concept and gather feedback. Remember to investigate: Is this something people find value in, and would they pay for it?” John Arroyo, Arroyo Labs, Inc.
Gather feedback from your customers. “The most important people behind the success of your company are your customers. You should regularly be interviewing your customers to hear about their pain points and needs. Remember to listen and tweak your services/products as needed based on the feedback you gather.” Laura Johnson, Salty Girl Seafood
Hold a focus group. “Holding a formal focus group with an unbiased target market for your product/service can be very effective. Sitting behind that two-way mirror can make you cringe, but there’s so much insight to be gained! You’ll hear the good, the bad, the ugly, and probably a few things you haven’t even thought about yet. It’ll save you a lot of time and money in your development and launch phase.” Angela Delmedico, Elev8 Consulting Group
Find a mentor. “Building a new business takes more than technological skills and creative genius: It needs people. Do some research, identify people with expertise and find a way to connect with them. Prepare an agenda so you can maximize their time and have a strategic discussion.” Jessica Baker, Aligned Signs
Seek someone who’s honest. “Running workshops with select customers is one possibility, while reaching out to bloggers and reviewers is another. Generally, you want to seek people who — while they’re in your target market — aren’t directly related to you. Friends, family and employees might be overly positive; what you want is brutal honesty. You might also consider reaching out to some of your past mentors as well.” Steven Buchwald, Buchwald & Associates
Openly test your idea. “First, test your idea conceptually with your trusted circle. If appropriate (and possible), run some real experiments so decisions can be made with real data.” Arry Yu, GiftStarter.com
Draw a mockup. “Ask 10 of the smartest people around you about your idea. Draw up a mockup using free tools, like Axure. If you’re selling to businesses, meet with them, show them your mockup and explain your solution. Ask, ‘How much would you pay for this?’ There’s no better validation than from customers who are ready to buy.” James Hu, Jobscan