Hold a Focus Group
Holding a formal focus group with an unbiased target market for your product/service can be very effective. Sitting behind that two-way mirror can make you cringe, but there’s so much insight to be gained! You’ll hear the good, the bad, the ugly, and probably a few things you haven’t even thought about yet. It’ll save you a lot of time and money in your development and launch phase.
– Angela Delmedico of Elev8 Consulting Group
Find a Mentor
Building a new business takes more than technological skills and creative genius: It needs people. Do some research, identify people with expertise and find a way to connect with them. Prepare an agenda so you can maximize their time and have a strategic discussion.
– Jessica Baker of Aligned Signs
Seek Someone Who’s Honest
Running workshops with select customers is one possibility, while reaching out to bloggers and reviewers is another. Generally, you want to seek people who — while they’re in your target market — aren’t directly related to you. Friends, family and employees might be overly positive; what you want is brutal honesty. You might also consider reaching out to some of your past mentors as well.
– Steven Buchwald of Buchwald & Associates
Openly Test Your Idea
First, test your idea conceptually with your trusted circle. If appropriate (and possible), run some real experiments so decisions can be made with real data.
– Arry Yu of GiftStarter
Draw a Mockup
Ask 10 of the smartest people around you about your idea. Draw up a mockup using free tools, like Axure. If you’re selling to businesses, meet with them, show them your mockup and explain your solution. Ask, “How much would you pay for this?” There’s no better validation than from customers who are ready to buy.
– James Hu of JobScan