Businesses that are successful are solving problems. Your business needs to solve a problem too in order to grow. So no matter what you have in mind first you need to see if it is solving a problem for your consumers. You need to do your research and find out if customers actually have the problem you think they do. Then find out how much they wan a solution for that problem. And if the solution you are offering would be preferable to current options.
At the beginning of your business you would have some hypothesis that you need to put on test. If your hypothesis passes the test, continue on. If it fails the test, discard the hypothesis and propose a new one. The best way to understand consumer needs is to communicate with them both in person and online. In a friendly conversation you will receive an unexpected and useful insight about your services or products. If you use in-person communication, then it is easier to ask follow-up questions immediately, based on what you learn from the customer. If you choose online communication, you can use paid survey tools to get uniform feedback from a large, targeted audience. Online is faster. You can easily read forums threads or list of Amazon comments to learn about consumer problems rather than calling each and every one of them. How ever in-person communication can build strong personal relationships that you can use later to help sell your products.
When doing your in-person research you should present the problem you think your audience has and get feedback on your assumption about their problem.
The goal is to see if you have identified a problem and assess consumer’s enthusiasm for solving it with your product or service. In-person customer discovery might be a bit tricky as it is hard to find that many people. A good rule of thumb is to talk to 50 people in your target market. You can start from your friends and family, and 2nd level connections like your friends’ friends and family, cold-calling businesses that might be interested in your product or service, and networking conferences and events.
When doing in-person research ask open-ended questions to end your conversation. for example: Is there anything else I should have asked you? Who else should I talk to?…
For online-research, you can join groups or forums online, ask a question about a problem and see how many other people have the same problem. You can also create Google Form questionnaire to everyone you know who is in your target audience and do an online survey.
Customer discovery is an important first step of starting your business. You might discover some parts of your hypotheses were wrong. You don’t need to give up. You can pivot and try a new idea around what you had in mind.
Once you validate the problem then comes validation of your solution.
These surveys and researches might look time consuming but they are worth it. You need to know if the money and time you are going to invest is actually invested for the right product or service. You need to know how you are offering to and who important your product and service is to them. And why you rather than your competitors.
The answer to these questions saves you lots of time and money later on. It also gives you lots of insight about your consumer and you would know better how to target them and sell them your products or offer them your services. You know their current problem, you know they are looking for a solution, and you know your solution is better than your competitors. If part of your hypotheses were wrong you can easily pivot, form new ideas, and test your new hypotheses until your are satisfied with the results.