Amanda Stillwagon As Chief Marketer for Small Business Trends, Amanda oversees online marketing, email marketing and social media marketing for the Small Business Trends group of sites.

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  1. With most products you need to get to a minimal working model and then take it to customers to see if they’ll pay for it. Even big companies like Google do this when they offer “beta” features in AdWords that top advertisers can “test” – meaning they’re the guinea pigs.

  2. I don’t really agree with this fully. I am all for new ideas and putting restrictions on them is like putting restrictions on creativity. Sure, you have to think about the audience to make significant money. But as long as your product is useful enough to a particular market, I’m sure that it can make some sales.

  3. How could you ensure that the answers are valid, so you could rely on the data, and then build and launch the product?

    • Ask members of your primary target audience. NEVER ask your friends or relatives! Even if these people are actually a part of your PTA they are prone to wanting to be encouraging and often will tell you what you want to hear and not the truth.

      If a stranger will pull out their wallets of check books and ask if they can buy one you know you’re on the right track. One way to test for validation is to use one of the crowdfunding platforms as a presentation base. They will allow you to set up a very comprehensive campaign for free. Present the prototype. Demonstrate and explain how the product or service is intended to work. Offer the product at a discount or get people to agree to beta testing. Send everyone you know to the site. Collect the feedback and refine your offering.

  4. Testing your product with select customers is critical. The only reason our startup’s product is undergoing critical changes now is due to encounters we had in the site’s earliest stages. You definitely don’t want to launch an ineffective product to the public.

  5. Great timing and info. I just finished a phone conversation with another software developer looking for $50K to finish off an application he and his team have been working on for over a year. When asked if he had attempted to validate the product concept or if he’s read Lean Start-up I drew a blank on both counts. I’ve been in the marketing communication field for over 30 years. I still can’t believe the so many want-to-be entrepreneurs have idea how important it is to validate an idea before they or anyone should invest money, time and energy into building a product. This has been an SOP for any of the more successful companies I’ve worked with during my career. I’ve had to pull a number of individuals back from the brink of what could have been financial ruin because they get this “great idea” and they convince themselves that its the greatest thing since sliced bread. Keep up the effort to save them from themselves with information and articles like this one.

  6. Hi Amanda,

    I would also check out your competition and see what popular products/services they have that are selling.

    Think about how yours can be better, different and more cost effective