That voice resonating in Kevin Costner’s head if you build it, they will come was wrong…Plan wrong. This may apply to building a baseball diamond in a cornfield or building the World’s tallest building but it does not apply to building a product! If you have an idea for a product, app or services, don’t go dumping all your savings and every spare minute of your time into building it until you have spoken to at least 20 people about it. And 20 is the bare minimum.
You may think you have an idea for the best product in the world but unless your market is made up entirely of you, it may not appeal to anyone else. There’s a fair chance that other people will have different opinions, ideas or suggestions which could make it a lot better than you ever imagined. To have a successful product you need it to appeal to a large number of people and unless you consult a large number of people about your idea before you build it, you might end up in a cornfield wonder where all the people are.
Having a great product that appeals to a large bunch of customers is referred to as product market fit and its critical for a product to become successful. No one ever made much money building a product no one wants.
Knowing this I am still amazed about how many people claim to have a million dollar idea but refuse to discuss it. “What if someone steals my idea?” To be honest the average person is not going to steal your idea. Ideas are a dime a dozen and everyone has one and in the scheme of things an idea is the 1% inspiration and the 99% perspiration required to turn the idea into some thing real…well, most people just can’t be arsed doing. Obviously there are some people you don’t want to tell and for good reason. These people include anyone who is active in the same space and has the ability to easily act on your idea. Use common sense when selecting who to disclose your idea too.
Make sure you select a well rounded group of people to discuss it with. No point just showing it to friends who will tell you its a great idea. You’re looking for people who will look for the problems with it and try to shoot holes in your idea. And when they do, take note as these are the same objections your potential customers are going to have when they are deciding on if they should purchase your product so if you can get rid of the objections your one step closer to a sale.
There’s been many times when people have shared their top secret idea with me and I do a quick Google search and say, “you mean like this”? I don’t mean to shoot down their idea, by all means finding out that someone has already acted on your idea proves there is a market and there’s always room for competition, but the more people you talk to the more likely you are to shoot down a bad idea early or turn a good idea into a great one.
What if I want to patent the idea? This complicates things but there are still ways to discuss it your idea with people with out publicly disclosing it. Non Disclosure Agreements are one option but you may also be able to gauge feedback on the idea with out disclosing your IP.
That voice in Kevin’s head should really have be saying “if they want it, you should build it”.