This question troubles everyone who want to start a business but are struggling at their corporate jobs. Sometimes, people wantto leave their job rightaway to implement their idea but they are afraid of failure. Their concern is genuine; what if their idea is not good enough to attract customers or they fail to implement the product itself or they could not hire the right team. There are so many negative possibilities.
I quit my job without validating my idea because I was frustrated with my work. My job was sucking the life out of me, and I was suffocating in that environment. It was a big risk, but I made the right choice. However, I do not recommend you leave your job without validating your startup idea.
I failed at my first attempt. My co-founder had to go back to the job, so what worked for me did not work for him. I survived because of zero liabilities, no home EMI, and I secured sufficient funds to see me through for a year. I lived a simple and frugal life with the determination to stay in the startup.
There are some ways to reduce the risk and validate your idea while staying at your job.
It will take at least six months if you start building a software product or more than a year if you are building hardware. What is the use of spending so much on product development if you figure out later that customers do not want your product?
The good news is that if your potential customers are online then you can validate your idea without writing even a single line of code. You can validate your idea with a simple landing page.
The intention is to check the user navigation on your landing page. Make an impressive landing page and offer two to three options to your user. You will understand user behaviour if he wants to test your product or is even ready to pay. Buffer validated their startup idea on landing page before fully launching their product.
Similarly, you can make a couple of surveys and ask users’ opinion on your product offerings. Survey results provide you more data points, and you will understand more about customers’ requirements and pains. With the help of customer data, you can prioritise your features and also improve your landing page for deeper validation of your idea.
You can use tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. You can find users on social media for sending surveys. If you find trouble in finding users who can fill up your survey, then try to offer them some tangible benefits or coupons. You can also find a lot of companies that help in filling up paid surveys.
Quora is a powerful tool for human interaction. Ask open questions regarding the problem and your proposed solution. Find existing discussions relevant to your product offering. Participate in the discussions to get a better understanding of the problem and solution.
Don’t worry about disclosing your idea; no one is going to steal it. I explained in one of my previous articles why hiding your startup idea can prove detrimental to your growth.
Go a step further: interact with your potential customers by meeting them physically. I know you don’t want to waste a lot of time and spend money on paying the coffee bills of strangers. Be selective. First, interact over the email, chat or phone and when you get some signals that the person has the persona of your real customer, sit with him and understand about the problem and discuss your solution.
Sign him up for your early adopter mailing list and send him regular updates on your progress. People offer genuine help after a personal interaction.
You can validate your idea even when your potential customers are not available online, or your target customers are local in your area. Get some printouts of product benefits or survey or just a sign-up form asking for user information. Be creative. Make something interesting and helpful for the user.
Find an event or place where your customers hang around. It can be an exhibition, college or community event, job fair, bus stop or cafeteria of a company. Don’t just hand over the printouts but talk a little bit to people, tell them what you are building and how that can be beneficial for them.
Give them the form to fill up when they show a little bit of interest. Make sure to include your online form link so that they can do so from home if they wish. Politely ask for their email/phone number.
I hope you have little more confidence to validate your idea without spending any money on product development. If you have any question, write in comments or reach out to me on Twitter (@pardeepg).