How To Validate Your Business Idea

Since deciding to pursue the Giant DIY Kits, I’ve been working on validating the idea. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “validation,” it means getting proof that people like the idea and are willing to pay.

I’m also trying to get my wife excited about this idea. This instantly becomes a much more enjoyable project if she’s pumped about it.

I think getting your spouse excited about your business is a good hack for improving the chances you’ll succeed.

Unfortunately, my wife is lukewarm towards the Giant DIY Kits idea. She supports me, but prefers ideas where I’m teaching things I’ve had success with in the past. Her opinion weighs heavily, but it hasn’t changed my desire to push forth with this validation.

I still want to see if there’s a chance this can work.

A short week for Thanksgiving and lots of pie eating kept validation unfinished, but here’s the progress made so far…

1 – Created a demand survey

I created a survey where people could share their thoughts on the idea and tell me whether or not they’d buy.

I used Google Forms to build the survey because it’s intuitive, online, and free. You also get the survey responses back in spreadsheet & chart formats so it’s easy to make decisions from the data.

I thought it was important to show example pictures in the survey so people could see exactly what I was offering. Many people have asked about my regrets with SumoJerky and how that might impact this project. Neglecting the visual side of the business is definitely a regret. It’s better to show people what they’ll get versus telling them.

My goal for the survey is to get a hundred responses and find at least 10 people willing to pre-order. I kinda pulled those numbers out of thin air, but essentially that’s the amount of data I think I need to feel comfortable with moving forward with the idea. You could get by with less data or get more data depending on your risk tolerance. When I had a real job at Nielsen, we used to interview up to 300 people for $50,000 market research studies about new ideas for products. 300 responses is probably the upper maximum of what you need.

Five questions are asked in my survey:

  • Would you buy this?
  • How much would you pay?
  • Would you pre-order for a discount?
  • What feedback do you have for me?
  • What’s your email?

Here is a link to the actual survey. Please add your answers for me (even if you’re not a parent) and then feel free to copy & edit this survey to validate your business.

I wanted to make sure my survey was very direct and asked people to buy. I did not want to beat around the bush and get fooled by people saying they love the idea only to find out later they wouldn’t be willing to pay for it.

I think a lot of entrepreneurs trick themselves by asking people fluffy questions like “do you like this” instead of getting to the point and asking “would you buy this.”

I’ll follow up with the survey results next week.

2 – Personally emailed some parents I know

My goal here is to focus on the intended target audience. I think the Giant DIY Kits would be fun for parents to do with kids so I emailed some parents.

So far I have contacted 6 parents and all of them have taken the survey. I’m realizing now that I should follow up with these parents after they finish the survey and ask them if they know other parents. This should help me get more survey responses.

3 – Asked my family for some referrals

I emailed my mom, dad, and sister to see if they knew any parents who might answer my survey questions. They were kind enough to pass my survey along and that’s netted me additional responses.

4 – Direct messaged parents on Reddit

My personal network isn’t large enough to yield survey responses from 100 parents so I’ll need to reach some randoms. To do so, I’m using Reddit.

Reddit is a site with lots of different forums, called “subreddits”, where people can share & discuss things.

I searched the phrases “ask parents,” “parenting,” and “crafts” on Reddit to find subreddits where parents were already having discussions. From there, I went into each subreddit and direct messaged parents whom I found giving advice. My hypothesis was that since these parents already liked sharing their thoughts in these forums, they might be willing to share their thoughts in my survey.

I wasn’t sure if this method would work at all, but then I got a message back from Reddit user “Ashley777” that said “sure.” Her response gave me confidence to continue, so sent I sent the survey to more parents on Reddit. So far I’ve had about 10 Redditors take my survey and almost every person I’ve asked has agreed to take the survey.

This has been a free and fairly efficient means of gathering responses so I plan to continue it.

5 – Posted my survey on Facebook and Twitter

I posted a link to my survey on my Facebook timeline and Twitter feed. I never post on Facebook and rarely post on Twitter, but this is one of those things I felt like I had to do. Ultimately, I kept the post simple:

Trying to create a business from scratch. Is this idea dumb: …

I’m not sure if this generates many survey responses because my posts don’t seem to get much organic reach. If you are active on social media and typically get lots of comments & likes, this method should work better for you.

6 – Emailed my SumoJerky email list

I was getting a little impatient, so I emailed my survey to non-buyers on the SumoJerky list. This got me several responses, but not every response was from a parent.

Had I more patience, I would have continued exclusively with steps 2-5 and accepted a longer timeline to hitting my quota.

What’s next?

I’m still about 20 survey responses short of the 100 responses I’m seeking. I need to continue sending out survey invites and asking respondents for referrals.

Going through this process has reminded me that’s there’s often a large gap between what one should do and what one actually does.

There are days where I constantly refresh the survey results page to see if anyone has replied and whether or not they like the idea.

It’s quite addicting. A little dopamine rush when someone likes it and a little deflation when someone doesn’t. It’s a waste of time and energy.

I should be ignoring the results and focusing on getting more responses until I hit my quota. Once I hit the quota, I need to ask people who said they’d pre-order to actually send me the money. Yikes!

My wife’s indifference to the Giant DIY Kits and my own reservations about the idea have me wavering a little. We’ll see if the survey results are good enough to convince me to press forward.

Do you think this Giant DIY Kits idea will validate? Why or why not?

Please leave your prediction in the comments below. I’ll share the survey results next week.




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One thought on “How To Validate Your Business Idea”

  1. A couple thoughts:

    1) On the positive side, I saw a short clip on CNN where the crew went to a store right before Black Friday. The journalist pointed out a few oversize Star Wars dolls (maybe 4 feet tall!) among other oversize non-Star Wars characters. So maybe XL versions of toys and pop media are “in” this year.

    2) On the negative side, your idea doesn’t solve a painful problem. It’s more of a “nice to have” or impulse purchase. Maybe you need to think about changing your target audience to a certain kind of nostalgia fanatic and make XL versions of “their” type of product. To rehash the Star Wars example, there are people who specialize in building premium light sabers for these fans.

    3) I really like that you ask some people to pre-pay in your survey. In the past, I did a survey asking prospective customers if they’d buy my product in the future, many said “yes”, and then they never ended up buying.

    4) Maybe you need a prototype with photos and/or a video before asking people to validate your idea. Look at Kickstarter. Every concept has a pitch video and most have photos or images of the proposed item. Your idea might be too vague for anyone to give a solid answer.

    5) I’m thinking it might be ideal to validate one DIY kit concept at a time and then pre-launch it as a limited edition, instead of pitching a general line of DIY kits. For example, if you find a group of candy fanatics (or specifically Hershey bar fanatics) on Reddit, maybe you could pre-sell a DIY kit to them and say that you’re going to manufacture only 100 kits. Also, I suggest looking into how some people use micro-targeting on Facebook to sell Springtee shirts to niche audiences.

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