We’re moving to the next part of the flywheel, validation and testing.
During the first part of this framework we learned the wants and needs of our audience, ourselves, and from those, our business.
That process helps us understand what our business really exists for - to help make change happen in a specific set of people we seek to serve with our work.
How we do that can take many different forms. Products, services, subscriptions, partnerships, etc.
At this point it’s now our job to create a “breakthrough” idea, and then validate those ideas through testing and validation.
How to create a breakthrough idea:
The process is very straightforward, fairly simple, but often requires us getting in deeper than we are used to.
1. First, you have to see things as they are. The important word in that phrase is as. We want to get to the truth, things as they are.
We can often find ourselves seeing things worse than they are, and we must avoid that in order for this process to work.
We need to understand what’s really going on - again, our understanding of wants and needs helps us here. What does your audience want and need? What are their current struggles and pains?
2. Second, we need to imagine things better than they are. What would it look like if the problem were solved? What does the end result look like? What are the biggest obstacles in the way that you could remove through a product or service?
This second step is huge and will start giving you ideas about what you could offer to people in exchange for time, attention, or money.
3. Then the last step, make things better than they are! If things are painful and a struggle for your audience then no one else has solved this problem yet! Now it’s up to you to take the action and start making that change that will serve your audience the best.
Now, what that does not mean is to go out and invest a ton of time and money into building something for six months to a year, perfecting it, and then finally releasing it once all the kinks have been ironed out.
We are going to take a different approach here. The last thing we want to do is create an entire business, product, or service, along with the “requisite” landing page, website, backend, sales infrastructure, and branding for something that no one ultimately wants or needs!
As you’re doing this process you want to get quick feedback on your ideas, and look for signals that your idea could produce the kind of results you want and need for your business.
Rather than spending $25k producing an album that no one is interested in, why not post an acoustic demo of a song on youtube or instagram and gauge how people respond to it?
One takes a ton of time and money, the other requires about 10 minutes and your phone.
When you land on an idea that is truly a breakthrough, you get a ton of immediate feedback that stands out from everything else you’ve done.
For example - I’d been trying to figure out how to create online courses to teach people, and spent a few months building the website, paying money for the platform, the domain, the email list, everything. All with ZERO students.
I released my first two courses and made about $1,000 over about two months, and quickly realized this was not going to be sustainable.
Then I went through this process of seeing things as they are (i.e. not good), then what it would look like if it were better, then making it better.
I realized that I needed more traffic, and that there were people out there that needed courses to better serve their audiences. (Notice the needs in that sentence)
When I validated the idea we had so many people interested that we had to open the launch 2 days early, and the first new course under that structure sold $10,000 in a single week.
That’s the difference this process of uncovering and testing breakthrough ideas. 10x the results in a fraction of the time.
What’s the “minimum viable product” that you could put out into the world to test and validate your breakthrough ideas?
A landing page? You can build one for free using something like Convertkit.
An ebook? What about taking preorders using Gumroad?
A demo? What about putting a snippet on Instagram and then asking people to sign up for your email list to get the full acoustic version of the song?
A consulting product? How about using a free Calendly account to schedule calls and then emailing every past client (also free)?
The mindset shift for today is that we need to think in terms of minimum viable products and offers and getting them in front of the people we’re seeking to serve as quickly and easily as possible.
My wife, April, had an idea a month or so ago to take some of her spare time and create a physical product - mounting these amazing butterflies in some hand-made window boxes.
Within two weeks she had sourced the butterflies (at about 1/10 the typical price), created a prototype box, and threw up a quick Instagram account. She then used that “minimum viable product” to get into a local makers market. That was enough validation to spend a hundred dollars to make about 25 more boxes, and as she was doing that she started getting people asking to buy them from seeing them on Instagram.
In a week she sold over $1,000 at a cost of less than $100, and has been selling the butterflies ever since. She may scale it down and stop doing it, but it was a perfect example of an idea being validated and tested.
What does your audience want and need? What are their pains and struggles and obstacles? How can you serve them and help change their situation?
Get the ideas down on paper, and test and validate in a quick and simple way to see which one has the potential of getting you the results that you want for your business.
The alternative is spending the next year doing more of the same and feeling frustrated that things aren’t working the way you feel they should be.
To be clear, this series of email this week is just a 30,000’ view of the process, there is much more detail to go into for this process.
Fortunately, for you, there’s a way to go through this process together, with a small group of peers, where you can get the kind of feedback and ask questions when you get stuck.
In the BUILD program I’ll be taking creatives, freelancers, and entrepreneurs through the step by step process of building a resilient business from desire to idea to validation to scaling and optimizing.
In the next post I’ll talk about one of the things that every business needs in order to survive - traffic. A flow of potential customers and clients that want the thing that you have. You can read it here.
PS - If you are ready to take control of the results of your business, you can join us in the BUILD coaching program that kicks off next week.
When I did my “minimum viable product” of a simple landing page over Black Friday-Cyber Monday, I wanted to validate this idea with my audience. The feedback was incredible and we had more signups than I was aiming for for those four days.
Here’s just what two of them said about BUILD:
“The main reason I signed up is the chance to convert my business into a sustainable business machine that can function without my constant supervision vs a service based business that requires me to be standing next to a camera or editing something on a computer in order to generate income. This will help me figure out how to build that mechanism and start asking the right questions of myself.”
“I really want to make some side money next year with creative stuff. I’ve always wanted to do something that’s my own thing, but have never known how to even start. Also - the network, the synergy of seeing other creatives do exciting things. I can’t wait!”
You can sign up for BUILD today and get instant access to a complimentary training on goal setting and doing an annual planning and review. See you there!