Startup & Small Business Builders 3. Validate, Validate, Validate
So, we talk about validation a lot in the startup sector. And what that means is you’re not actually selling; you’re validating that you have a problem. And the thing is, was when you’re validating a problem, you’ve got to make sure you’re not doing what we call lead the witness. I’ll give you an example. When I started my business, it was actually originally a technology training business.
The reason it was a tech training business was that I’d come out of working at a telecommunications company, and I had seen a lot of people come into my store asking me how to use the technology that they had bought. And so, I had created a false story in my head that people needed training. Except the problem was nobody was Googling it.
Nobody was actually looking for a person to solve the problem outside of the store. And so immediately I didn’t actually have a valid business. So, when we say validate and don’t lead the witness, what we mean is to interview your customer and find out what the problem is in their language. So, you might ask what we call open questions.
Tell me the last time that you travelled? What were the biggest challenges? I haven’t said. Tell me the last time you went traveling and you were stuck with your luggage. Very specific, right? Instead, I’m asking an open question because I want you to tell me what your problem was in that situation. Or it might be something to do with.
Tell me the problems you have with your marketing. I don’t make any assumptions. I don’t know what they are. And one of the things that I learned very early on in my business was that the biggest problem people had with marketing wasn’t actually marketing. It was time and technology. They didn’t know how to do it. They didn’t have the time to learn it, and it was made to feel more complicated than it actually was.
So, that was the problem that I ended up solving. Validation is a really, really important piece in small business and in startup, because it means you’re not going to go down a road developing something and then somebody goes, Oh yeah, I would have it, except only it’s missing feature x, and this is where we end up in a feature spiral and how projects blow up. Development projects end up costing hundreds and thousands of dollars because your initial problem that you were solving was not big enough on its own to make you money; you had to add features, solve the singular problem, the features, and not the problem to solve.