Are you a person who loves wasting time and money? Me neither.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t stopped many people (myself included) from being overconfident about their product ideas so they fall into the trap of creating products that people won't use or pay for.
Instead, they tackle problems that are interesting to solve but do not necessarily serve a real market need. Lack of validation, whether we’re building the right thing that will address actual customer needs, is one of the key reasons behind the failure of new ventures.
Approximately 90% of startups fail
Only 10% of startups fail during the first year but 70% of failures happen between the 2nd and the 5th year. What’s interesting is that 35% of startups fail because there is no real market need for their solutions.
See the correlation? During the first year, most companies focus on building the product, focusing on doing it right.
What happens between the second and fifth year is they discover that the product is not being used by customers as they expected. Few people are paid customers and then the panic starts.
Business owners often start to do many things like adding more features, pivoting, and redesigning without going back to find the root cause.
They spend a lot of time, effort, and money to amend the product (which is perfectly fine) believing that a sleeker look and smoother experience will solve the issue (which is rarely the case).
Let me repeat this and let it sink in for a while:
- 70% of business failures happen in the first 2–5 years after launching.
- For 35% of cases, the reason for failure is the lack of market need for what they were building.
Focusing on building the thing right is not enough.
How can you build the thing right if you are not building the right thing?
Even the most beautiful product, working flawlessly, with an excellent architecture and bugless code won’t bring success to your business if no one wants to use it or pay for it.
That’s why you need to focus first on building a product that is desired by the customer, fulfills their real need, and solves their real problems. So, how to make sure it does this before investing in a fully-fledged product?
The solution to this problem is: validation.
Validation helps to make sure that you are building the right thing before spending a dime on development.
What does it really mean for you and your business?
- Reduced the risk of failure and saving your money by making sure you are not wasting time on something no one wants.
- Raised chance of success by creating better products serving real market needs.
Why don't most people really validate their ideas?
Imagine that you’ve come up with an amazing idea. You are certain that it can change the world. You’ve talked about it with a lot of people. You feel confident that it’s something extraordinary.
What do you think and feel when you hear the word validation? When someone tells you that you should validate your idea? Are you excited, or rather nervous?
There’s a huge chance that even though you know that validation is very important and you understand that it’s a sensible thing to do, you’ll avoid the validation process unconsciously. Why?
The word validation means that your idea will be verified. Verified if it’s good enough — if there's proof and evidence confirming that it is well thought out, that there’s a potential for it, etc.
People are afraid that it might result in learning that their extraordinary idea, often treated like their baby, is ugly and nobody wants it. It’s no surprise that it can make people anxious and make them try to avoid it, even if this is self-sabotage.
And there’s another thing that is not making this easier. Time is playing against you and your mind.
Imagine that you have already spent money on designing and developing your product. You hired people to do the job. You feel like you’re moving forward. You feel energized and excited.
The problem is that if you haven’t been doing it from the beginning, it’s much harder to start properly validating your idea after you’ve already invested time and money into building a product. At this point, you’re falling into the confirmation bias trap and you’ll more likely see evidence confirming the idea.
That unconscious fear of discovering that what you are doing might not make sense is getting bigger and bigger with time.
Especially if you have an investor that you would need to tell that they’ve put their money into the wrong basket and that you’ve been building the wrong thing from the beginning.
That’s why many startups fail. They often think that they are different, hoping they will make it. They often just believe with a false confidence they can do better than others and all they do is focus on launching the product as quickly as possible and praying for the best.
But it’s not about faith. It’s about data and numbers that can give you real confidence.
Why should you validate before entering the market?
Going to the market is, of course, one of the ways to truly validate the product and to see if there’s a product-market fit. But a proper validation process is something that could and should be done before that and can be done with a fraction of the money and time.
The more you wait, the harder it will be to start truly validating the idea. To avoid this trap, start validating as early as possible.
There’s one thing that can help you to make that decision and overcome those unconscious psychological barriers that stop so many from doing it right.
You just need to realize and understand that validation is not about telling you there’s something wrong with your idea.
Validation is about discovering opportunities that can make your idea even better!
Let me show you a simple example. Your kid is showing a talent in tennis and you want to invest in their training. Of course, training to play tennis at a professional level takes a lot of time and effort (mosty on your kid’s side) but also money (that’s on you!).
What if you validated your kid's full potential first with the help of some trainers and physicians before starting proper tennis training? You may discover that thanks to their extraordinary spatial sense and agility, they could be much better at playing squash.
It’s not like they wouldn’t be able to be good at tennis — they just would never become a tennis world champion. But there’s a big chance that they might become one in squash.
The same goes for discovering opportunities for your product’s growth.
It can still turn out as a profitable business, but there’s a big chance that it could change into a unicorn if the validation was done right from the beginning and you pursued a different problem. There’s often a similar but much bigger opportunity just around the corner waiting to be discovered.
Why should you start validating your product ideas?
Product validation can help you make sure that you’re building the right thing and building a product that serves real market needs. Its role is also discovering opportunities that have the biggest potential and learning about customer needs while saving a lot of time and money. It’s an approach that raises the chance of a bigger success and reduces the risk of failure.
If you would like some assistance in this challenge, make sure that you have a Product Manager in the team whose job is to make sure that you’re building the right thing. You can also check our UX research services that cover experiments and techniques recommended for proper product validation.