The First Step to Take After Coming up with a Startup Idea

I’ve been looking for and starting businesses since I was a kid. In middle school I even had a business wholesaling vending machine goods hah. As I grew older I began thinking of more complex and technology driven ideas. After coming up with such ideas, the first thing I would usually do is ask a few friends and family who I consider to be smart and whose opinion I appreciate.

After reading books like The Startup Owner’s Manual, and learning about Lean Methodology and customer development, I learned that’s not exactly the best thing to do after coming up with an idea. I learned that the only opinion that matters is the customer’s.

While my friends and family may be pretty smart and some even entrepreneurially savvy, they don’t actually affirmatively know if people would want what I was thinking of marketing/selling.

I learned that one of the most important factors to consider was if it’s something that people want..

Yes there are many other strategic and personal considerations, however if it’s not something people want, then no strategy or marketing angle is likely to make it work. Conversely if there is something that truly of value to customers, many of the challenges associated with building a company, including customer acquisition, partnerships, etc., may be alleviated.

So, the first step to take after coming with a startup idea is to talk to your customers. Talk to, and more importantly, listen to, the customers that your product or service would be serving to see if they like your idea. It’s a process called customer development.  

Customer development is practiced to validate that you’re solving a problem for someone and that they see your idea as a viable solution.

I also learned a more effective process for coming up with ideas. A process driven by meeting customer needs by using customer development to gain insights that inform product decisions.

The key takeaway of this post is that answers to our questions about ideas come from getting feedback from customers through structured interviews and experiments. I go into specific tactics you can use to test ideas and conduct customer interviews in my book and video course. If you would like guidance on first steps to take on your idea, let me know in the comments!