Developing the concept is the fun part, but must be methodically approached
So what is a concept?
It is the passion, the idea, and the people you want to provide a product or service.
We need to make sure that when the hard times come. We would stick to the concept and not “pivot” because it becomes difficult (and it will).
One way to ensure this is to find out what you are passionate about. Think about the possibility of not getting money for any service/product in that passion. Would you still do it?
The second thing is to see if the idea is interesting. Is this technically fulfilling? is it complex enough for you? Is it innovative for you? Would you love to tell about it to strangers?
Finally, the people you want to provide an implementation of the idea. Would you feel driven to help them? Talk to them? Sell them? Market to them?
If you have answered yes to all of the above, it is time to see if your direction is sound business-wise by quick checking your concept.
There are many techniques. I favor the lean way. In the lean way, we start by imagining if we can take it to the next level.
Here is how I did it in the past.
Take a pen and paper and try to answer these:
- Who are the specific early adopters - the people you will raise your phone on demo validation?
- Try to title the Problem/Pain in a short sentence.
- What one sentence solution will we offer these early adopters.
- What are the alternative solutions they are using now (name at least 3).
- What is so unique and 3x+ better than the current solutions?
- What is the minimum you need to charge and the number of paying customers to break even, 6 months (I find 6 months practical because you have time to get an investment, pivot, or find a job) before the end of your runway (time+money+operating costs).
- What will be the hurdles to get to them and get them to pay you money (e.g., some companies don’t like to take a chance with unfunded bootstrappers).
- What will be considered a success? (e.g., X revenue, Y customers…)
You can answer these several times from different aspects. Then, try to see if you are willing to risk it for one of them.
It is crucial to be brutally truthful, risk-averse, critical, pessimistic, and questioning your motives (do you like the solution more than the problem?).
We are naturally biased towards making a concept look attractive because we are suffering in our current situation and need to change our lives.
You will not make your life better by replacing one uncomfortable situation with another just because you decided you need to change and go all-in on the 1st thing that comes to mind (hint: I did that as well :), never worked).
There are many tools to check your on-paper assumptions quickly. Tools like google trends, google search, patent search, talking to friends, family, your customers, social network, market research databases, and many others.
Important to note something. It rarely pays to keep what you do a secret. The cost of missing good advice is too high to keep it a secret. As a rule of thumb, usually, no one steals your ideas. The reasons are because that if they are planning to do something they:
- Have their own ideas they want to try.
- Have different life experiences on how to solve the pains you identify and end up with something completely different.
- There are better ideas to copy in the world. Certainly more lucrative.
- At this time, almost all problems have alternative solutions, and without your passion, they will just not attempt to solve them the way you would.
Okay, so you are sure you are interested, and your assumptions are checked (at least on paper). The next step is to make a quick mockup/demo and later validate it.
A quick demo means no code is involved, such as slides, one-pagers, a paper with questions, mockups, etc.
If you want to hear more, subscribe and join me on the next post in the series on how this is done.
Related Article: Bootstrapping is Possible! - Do Not Quit Your Job!