How to find ideas, and validate them as quickly as possible
24. March 2021
I know this is a recurrent fear of new IndieHackers: How can I find some new ideas?
In fact, opportunities are everywhere! There is plenty of ways to find ideas:
Scratch your own itch. What are you doing on a daily that can be improved? What are you struggling with? What do you hate doing?
Hang-out in communities and look for recurrent pains I’m a BIG fan of Reddit for that. Pick a community with 100k members, spend some time, and look for patterns. After a few weeks you will notice recurrent subjects. That’s the kind of problem you want to solve as an entrepreneur!
Go to a review site like TrustPilot, look for a bad noted app,and start a better alternative… There are tons of bad software out there. Just copy the purpose and the target audience but make something better (more features, better UI, more integrations, etc…)
Is the idea worth working on:
There are 4 questions you should ask yourself before starting:
- Is it a pain that people have regularly?
- Is it urgent/painful enough that people will pay for a solution?
- How hard it is to build?
- How hard is it to distribute?
Hard to distribute is a NOGO. You don’t want to build something you can’t sell.
Same for small pains, not recurring ones. You’ll create a “nice-to-have” product. That’s super hard to grow.
Hard to build can give you a competitive advantage. The question is: can you make an MVP in a month or two? If the answer is no, you can either go find a new idea or start to consider moving into a startup mindset (with external funds and hiring)
Once you find an idea, you need to validate it.
- Choose 10 people in your network who can be potential customers.
- Get them on THE PHONE and record the call!
- Ask them if they feel the pain you want to solve
- How are they solving it right now?
- Ask them how painful it is: do they lose time? money? customers?
- How often do they face the problem?
If the calls with the 10 people validated that the pain exists, it’s time to move to the 2nd step!
Build the more lightweight MVP possible. It can be some screenshots, a demo, a super lightweight website (use #nocode!). The only purpose of this MVP should be:
I know your pain, I’m working on a solution to fix it
Be as specific as possible, no BS, no jargon. Use the words of the people you interviewed in your content! I created the perfect list of tools to build an MVP on a budget, check it out!
Once your MVP is ready, create a pre-order page on Gumroad (way easier to set up than stripe). Then, bring some traffic either with ads or by asking for feedback on a community.
If you make a few sales with this super minimalist MVP you can start building something (and you have some extra cash now!). If you don’t make any sales, schedule some new calls, try to get some feedback. It may take a few shots before making it!
- This process doesn’t take more than a few days to complete (2 weeks top)
- Subscription to your newsletter isn’t a product validation. You need to see if people are willing to PAY!
- If you don’t get any pre-orders, make new calls with the first people and with new ones. Either you didn’t understand the pain or your solution isn’t solving it
- “Planning is guessing”. You don’t need any business plan or roadmap for a side-project.