“If you build it, they will come”… well, this does not count for startups. No one was waiting for another wantrapreneur and his or her new app, platform, website, service or handmade ______ (fill the blanks).
Building it before talking to potential customers will mostly end up with you spending a lot of your (or even worse someone else’s) money on something that is most likely going not to be demanded by your potential customers. Remember, only because you like it and because you fall in love with your idea, does not mean that anybody is going to pay you money for it.
After all this headache I could not let you go before I give you the aspirin I prepared for you. The solution to saving a lot of money, nerves and time is simple.
Know the problem before you build anything!
The quote “If you build it, they will come” is good if you have to evacuate all sorts of species from an unsafe place or if you sell ice cream in the Central Park. For all other types of businesses (and yes, this includes your idea too) you have first to find a real problem, then find people who need this issue to be solved and most important, they have to be ready to pay for the solution. Otherwise, it is a hobby.
It takes a few steps before you may be able to sell anything, as there is a learning process within this process. Let me guide you through.
For this example, we will take Olivia, from our book “Time to getLaunched.” After successfully selling her bicycle business, she want’s to try something new. She knows that there are many bike stores and the market is crowded and decides to find a new niche within her favourite topic, biking.
And boom, an idea pops up in her mind out of nowhere! She instantly gets excited about owning an online education platform for people who are new to cycling. They should learn the basics and get familiar with the topic in an easy way.
Olivia goes to upwork, finds freelancers to build a website and an online education technology. A professional writer to write the scripts for her videos. An actor and professional camera team to record the lessons (she is way too shy to do that on her own, and she just sold her business… so why not use this money as it is already there). She loves the way how she gets things done and is sure that the path is the right. Six months pass and Olivia is ready to show her new product to the world. Hooray!
Two weeks pass and guess what. Twelve visits to the website. Thereof three times her and the other times the developers. Yikes.
Ok, a new website needs time to become famous, right? Yes, but this is not the problem!
She assumed that if she builds it, they will come. But who are they? Where are they spending their time? What do they need? Why do they need it? Are they willing to pay for it?
There she is now. Spent half a year and a lot of money on something no one wants. How could this happen to Olivia, who was successful before?
There is no guarantee to make a business 100% successful, and I do not have the secret sauce never to fail again. But there are ways to raise the possibility of success, and yes, they mostly will lead to a fruitful business. How?
You need to think, talk, act and breathe like your audience. Therefore you have to identify your audience and find what bothers them most.
Surround yourself with potential customers. A good way to initiate that is using Meetup. I am practising this as well and organize monthly meetups in several cities in Europe. In less than a month you will attract many members if the topic is interesting enough and your description speaks their language. I managed to get 50 members in less than three weeks, A great result if you keep in mind that people have to join, you can not send them direct messages before. To raise awareness, you can also join other groups with a similar topic. They will see that you are a member and are much likely to join your group as well.
Psst..secret tip! Join many groups and participate in some meetups. If at some point the administrator quits and no longer manages the group, you will get a chance to take over the group. This happens from time to time and is an excellent way to win a few hundred participants fast.
We will continue with more ideas in our blog soon!