Starting a business idea is a thrilling experience. The process should follow a framework that copes with failure to avoid disappointment. However, countless entrepreneurs dive into their ventures without having a roadmap. This doesn’t automatically spell doom for their success, but lets face the facts: Most ideas and businesses will fail. And your next will probably too. In order to avoid losing motivation and stopping at the first failure, a framework can help you to detect probable failure sooner and start over with new or derived ideas.
Our framework is basically a five step process:
In the following, we will describe these phases in more detail.
Ideation is the process of generating ideas. There are many possibilities how to come up with ideas, but there is no holy grail. Here are some inspirations:
After you have collected a few ideas, you should select one that you have a good feeling about. The point is to get going and not being stuck selecting an idea.
Now, the goal is to get a non-biased feeling about the market size and if you can reach the target audience. It makes no sense to develop a product where you have not a chance to reach potential customers. For example, use the tool Google Ads Keyword to look and see how many people are searching these keywords and how expensive keyword marketing would be. Another option is to look for local meetups where this audience of customers is meeting. Would you be able to find customers or do you know where to find them? Is the problem actually big enough? If it occurs just once a year for a few people, it doesn’t make really sense do develop a solution.
At best, the problem is recurring, has a specific audience that you can reach and the problem is big enough so people would potentially pay for a solution.
After you have researched information about at least one idea, you should rate the idea. Don’t overdo this. Maybe just a quick score is already suffucient. In the end, you have to decide if you want invest more time in this idea. Thats what should be answerable.
The next step is to create a pretotype. The word was coined by Alberto Savoia in his book “The right it”. The approach is to test a product market hypothesis with minimal or none implementation effort. To follow this approach, we often create a simple landing page for the idea.
Firstly, this helps to understand the idea better as you need to think about benefits and get to the core of the idea. If you can’t build a short landing page because you don’t know what to write, you might want to invest some more time interviewing potential users and customers about the problem you are trying to solve.
Secondly, we can use this landing page to get proper feedback from customers. The easiest way without any personal network is to start a small marketing campaign in your favorite tool, for instance Google Ads. Important: Include proper tracking on the landing page, otherwise you won’t know how many people actually visited the landing page. In addition to that, you could create a small fake-door-test on the landing page. So for instance, you create a button that invites to create an account. But on clicking this button, there is only a “coming soon” where you might want to offer a newsletter or mailing list to signup early for this idea.
You have to think about what success for this pretotype means. If you have to pay a lot for every click and people don’t really stay on your site, it might not be worth it.
Another idea is to setup a newsletter and just to write regulary about a certain topic. Are people signing up? Do you find these people easily?
Lets imagine you can reach your audience with the pretotype. Congratulations, that’s actually a great step forward. It is time to celebrate.
Now, you could start creating a first working prototype. This prototype doesn’t really need to be coded or anything. It depends on the solution you want to build, but you might be able to fake interaction to some level, e.g. by setting up a Man-Behind-the-Curtain environment where you are actually faking the algorithm and providing answers manually. For sure, this doesn’t scale at all. But you might get more insights on customers and the problem you are solving. If you have collected a few customers and you validated that your idea actually works, you can now think about the next steps and really building the product. Congratulations!