Solving Problems and Providing Value: How 2 Validate a Business Idea
When you are considering starting a venture, how do you know if your business idea is worth pursuing? While the support of friends and family is always a great start, you’ll want more confirmation from your target market before investing significant time and resources into the project.
Drawing upon his research and experiences as a founder, Professor Bradley George walked us through his framework for the validation of business ideas. Here are some of our favorite insights from Professor George’s recent How 2 Tuesday session, How 2 Validate a Business Idea.
Solving Problems for Customers In Professor George’s framework, the first two stages of the validation process are identifying if a problem exists and determining if your business idea solves said problem. Professor George points out that many founders’ understanding of customer problems are based on assumptions, which founders must seek to confirm or disprove by engaging with their target market. Once you’ve identified which problem is most important to your customers, you then need to reaffirm that your product or service can solve it. Reflecting on recent trends in the startup world, Professor George cautions tech entrepreneurs to first focus on the problem that they solve for customers, not the specific technologies they use to do so.
What Value Do You Provide? As entrepreneurs hone in on how their potential venture will succeed, identifying potential clients and revenue streams is key. Professor George reminded us that determining who would actually pay for our product or service is predicated on a deep understanding of the unique value our venture provides. He encourages entrepreneurs to re-consider whether or not their venture’s value relates to the problem they had initially set out to solve. Answering “no” to that question is not necessarily a bad thing, instead signaling to entrepreneurs that they might succeed by pivoting their pricing and marketing to reflect the problem their venture actually can solve.
Finding Games Worth Playing When we think and talk about validation, it’s all too easy to focus only on the scope of opportunities and to pursue only those ideas which have the greatest chance of massive growth. Professor George emphasized that there are also personal considerations, which also must be taken into account when deciding if a venture is a “game worth playing” in your unique situation. He shared his experience of founding a dance studio with his wife. The Georges knew their venture was not primed for massive growth, but recognized a market segment of dancers, uninterested in competitions, who were left under-served following the closure of a nearby studio. By establishing clear goals for how this business would fit into their financial plans and lifestyle, the Georges found a “game worth playing” in Attitudes Dance and Fitness, their studio which helps its students pursue dance as a form of art and self-expression.
We hope these tips from Professor George’s How 2 Tuesday help you validate your next business idea. The Blank Center’s #How2Tuesdays series will resume in the spring semester, featuring a new lineup of entrepreneurs from many industries who will share their actionable tips for startup success. For the latest updates on all things Blank Center, including the upcoming B.E.T.A. Challenge and Summer Venture Program, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.