How to validate your startup idea: Give it a good thrashing (it'll love you for it)

Why your nugget of brilliance needs to be shunted into the light of day and beaten to a pulp by everyone you know.

Why your nugget of brilliance needs to be shunted into the light of day and beaten to a pulp by everyone you know.

dave allison startup weekend creativehq

Everyone tells you that running your startup is going to be hard. But how hard is hard? Is it normal and difficult (hard-ish) or simply impossible (hard x 1034)?

Before starting your venture, you should set out to understand your market. Understanding your market means your idea is grounded on something other than your own brilliance.

We're not questioning your brilliance, mind you. It’s just that it’s not all that impressive on its own.

Your idea is really a huge tapestry of assumptions. If you say “I believe…” a lot, you are better destined for a faith-based occupation. “I think…” lends itself to philosophy. “I read it on Google…” suggests a career working for News of The World, or apparently not (RIP).

Your goal in figuring out whether your idea is one of those undiscovered gems or one of those undiscovered small greyish pebbles is to confirm or dismiss every assumption you have about your market. The effort of proving that a solution is needed and that your market will pay for it is worthwhile. This evidence will help you avoid a slow, crushing realisation that what you are building is not wanted, not going to work, or the worst kind … so brilliant no one knows it is brilliant.

A good idea becomes better with age, but unlike wine, only if you open it up and share it with people now. The idea that you’re cellaring for a big reveal in 2016 is likely going to disappoint.

Once up and running, all you can do is keep your mind open. Keep testing what you are doing with your advisers, your team and your customers. Look at how your product or service is used, seek feedback and use this to optimise. Don’t jump at every user’s whim but look for trends and seek out the sources of feedback you can trust.

If your business model turns out wrong, don’t lose heart – it may have been right three months ago – but things change.

In fact, almost everything changes. It’s about the only certainty you’ve got ahead of you. One of your strengths as a startup is your flexibility so use that to your advantage.

Starting at Startup Weekend is one way to go. It is hard to challenge your own ideas, so get in a room with people that won’t be shy.

Give your ideas a good thrashing. They’ll love you for it.

The Startup Trident of Wisdom: Ideas Suck Until They Don’t

Your idea is worth nothing, until it is worth something. Start building some value.

Most ideas start with assumptions. Most business failures start the same way.

Someone else is having the same idea right now, so get cracking slowpoke.

Dave Allison is a strategist at CreativeHQ, which is organising Startup Weekend Wellington with Webfund, BizDojo, and IWantMyName.

The inaugural Wellington Startup Weekend is on this week from November 4-6. The room will be crammed with entrepreneurs and mentors trading advice on how to get a team around an idea and turn it into a business fast. This is the first in a series on the quintessential elements of startup success.

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