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Mind the Gap

Lesson 12 from: Validating Your Product or Service Idea

Sarah Doody

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Lesson Info

12. Mind the Gap

Lesson Info

Mind the Gap

By now hopefully you have thought about your business ideas, gone and started to piece together the survey that you're gonna send out, and maybe even you are at the point where you've sent it out and you are starting to go through those results and spotting the insights, spotting the goals, spotting the obstacles, things like that. So what comes next? This is where it starts to get a little bit more hands on and we start to think through what product do we actually create? Not the big version, the small version, and then how do we create a landing page and start collecting emails? So, first we need to think about what do we build? And remember back to that original kind of three-columned diagram I had, we're gonna come back to it but, where people are, where they wanna be, and the obstacles. And you need to think of it like you are here, no, the people are here, they wanna get over there, we need to build them this bridge, I'm big on analogies here. So, we need to build people a bridge...

and the challenge that a lot of entrepreneurs face, and we saw this earlier but it comes back into our world now because it's so important to remember that we don't need to build the entire bridge. We need to bridge the simplest solution to get them to the other side. So, we want to build what people really want, they just need to get across the river, let's say. We don't need to build like the three-level bridge that we envision that's gonna look so great in this cityscape or something. So, don't build what you want to make. We need to build what people really, really want and like I said, we need to take our research and really start to map it back to all of these sections. So, we're going to go through mapping out the research that we did for the lawn-mowing company and seeing how it plays out and then we're gonna come up with, okay, how do we actually start mowing lawns without dropping 50 grand and waiting 'til three summers from now? So, let's go through that. So, Mike, remember, he wants to make the lawn-mowing on-demand thing, we're not gonna worry about snow, we're just gonna deal with lawns right now. And Mike went through and did the survey, he was smart. He did the survey, figuring out those goals, obstacles, and problems. And let's talk through some of the, first column on the left, where people are today. So, from Mike's survey, this is some of the things he heard. People are spending too much time on their lawn. They have a really gross and unhealthy lawn and these are the things that people said. So, this is in their own language which is important. Also, maybe they're fighting with their spouse or partner about who's gonna cut the lawn or it's taking too long or do we really need the riding lawnmower when we have the push mower? Again, all those side effects that come up from, it's not just mowing the lawn, it's trying to solve those underlying pain points as well. So, this is where people are today. Also, just this nagging chore that people hate, this list would be much, much longer but for now, we're gonna keep it simple here. So, where people are today. Let's jump over to where they want to be 'cause it makes a little bit more sense. But where the wanna be, again, in our survey we were asking questions that lead us to these goals. So, I want to have a great looking lawn, awesome. They wanna have a lawn that they can use. They wanna sell the house. See, maybe we didn't think of this in the beginning when we were first thinking of a lawn business. And these are some of the benefits that people are really looking for, some of the goals that they have. It's not just mowing the lawn, it needs to look good, to have curb appeal so they can finally sell the house that's been on the market for eight months or something. Next, not have to think about the lawn. Maybe it's this constant persistent stress in their life and they wish that they could just like go on vacation and come back and the lawn's taken care of. Or if we think of snow removal, they're going to sleep in the evening and they know a snowstorm is coming overnight and they're stressing and thinking, oh, I have to get up so early. I'm talking about my childhood home now. Get up so early to mow the lawn-- Or not mow the lawn, do the driveway 'cause it's covered in snow. Wouldn't it be amazing if that just, you woke up and that was done and you didn't have to think about it. That's kind of the place that people wanna be. Feel good about their lawn every time they pull in the driveway. You know, I again, I'm thinking of some friends back in the hometown I grew up in and she always complains about their lawn. Every time we got on the phone, "Oh, the lawn is so dead." And it's kind of a status symbol really and so, you don't wanna feel like you have the worst lawn in your subdivision or whatever. So, they wanna have an awesome lawn. But what is stopping people from getting to where they are right now to where they wanna be? Here's what we heard in the research. Don't have enough time. Not very surprising but still important to acknowledge. Not knowing the proper tools and products. That is true of many people. Debating do you get this organic thing, do you get this other thing, should I buy sheep? I don't know what people do, goats maybe. But not knowing the proper tools and products. Not being able to find a company. I'm sure if you go and try and look it up, you could easily end up in decision anxiety where you're trying to figure out, well, this company, and you read the reviews and the next thing you know, you've spent three hours one evening reading all these reviews and you still haven't booked a lawn-mowing appointment. Not wanting to pay someone to do it. Maybe you're cheap and you're trying to get over this hurdle of, I know I need to have this done but I don't wanna pay, so you're constantly trying to find it for cheaper maybe. So, these are just some of the examples of where we might be when it comes to looking at where we are today, where we wanna be in the obstacles. So, next we need to think to ourself. Based on everything we just saw in that last slide, what do we make? So, we're not gonna make the dream. And I keep repeating this over and over because I know that some people will still try and go make the dream. So, this is what Mike probably was thinking in the beginning and this is loosely based off of a conversation that I had with an acquaintance who wanted to make the Uber of lawn mowing, which sounded cool. But he had no idea what he was actually, what path he was going down. So, "I want to make the Uber "of lawn mowing and snow removal." People are gonna be able to schedule lawn care, pay by their credit cards so it's cashless. They could skip weeks if they want. Maybe you're saying every two weeks, you're gonna mow my lawn on Thursdays at four. You can rate the people, you can ask for the special organic package or whatever it is. Maybe there's extra services like you want your lawn cut in a nice pattern. You know how sometimes lawns look like that? Or extra landscaping and things, I don't know what. But maybe people wanna see progress photos 'cause that's what Mike decides he's gonna show, like here's your lawn before and after. And people can schedule all these things. And then he has these ideas, now once we have people hooked on our lawn service, we're gonna do their snow removal, we'll also put up their Christmas lights, and all these other things. You can see he's thinking five years down the road. That's nice, that's not gonna make money initially, and he'll probably go bankrupt before he starts to do all this. So, we need to make what people really want and we need to go back to the research and if you think of that three column, what are the obstacles that are going to help people find lawn care providers, schedule the appointments, pay for it, so that they don't have to? So, this kind of initial problem statement, problem/product statement, depending on what you wanna call it, is based off the chart we saw before where we're saying where are people, where do they wanna be, what are the obstacles, and we try and build the simplest solution to address those obstacles, and that's what we're going to do. The tricky thing is you don't need to get married to the solution, so my friend who this is loosely based off of, I could tell they were really into this for the long haul and the thing is maybe you realize just mowing lawns is a big enough business, you don't need to go put Christmas lights and do snow and all that. So, you don't want to get married to the solution. You wanna focus on the thing that's gonna help people get them to the outcome that they want right, right now. And as you learn more about the audience, because as we said, we're going to get into this habit of launching and learning, that solution might change. Maybe we realize different things about how they like to pay, how they use technology, maybe they're not app people. Maybe they have, I'm not sure what, but we need to be open to knowing that the solution that we come up with now will probably change based on what we learn. And a great example would be my little program for designers to make portfolios, well that started as a 90-minute workshop, and that was nice, but here's what I didn't tell you. Afterwards, I got all kinds of feedback from people saying "That was great, it would be really wonderful "if this was four weeks long "so you could really be alongside us and help us through." And I thought to myself, okay, let's make this four weeks long. So, you never know that and I would have never known that if I hadn't have launched that first version and received that feedback to understand why they needed it to be four weeks long so they had time to implement, so they could check in with me after each milestone. If you imagine if this class were four weeks long, it would be cool for you to check in, so similar idea. But we have to know that the solution will definitely change 'cause basically we're gonna hack together something right now. And we're not going to build this product and I put that in quotes because that could mean building an app or paying a printer to make your cute little planner. Or paying an industrial designer to do the 3D models of your travel organizer for your jewelry and makeup and things. Because we're not going to do that because we haven't validated if people want this. We don't know that when we tell people about this, they're gonna give us their email address as a form of intent. But we have to think about what this first version looks like so that if people are really interested, we have a plan for how we're going to go mow their lawns or whatever your product is. Because we don't want to all of a sudden, say, have 100 email addresses of people who are really excited about this and then say to them, okay, let me get back to you next summer. They're going to figure out a new method or they won't care or they'll forget about you and you want to capitalize on the trust and relationship that you're starting to build with people as you go through this process. So, we need to basically have this little rough plan of how we're going to hack together the solution in our back pocket so we can pull the trigger if our validation process says this is a good idea. So, what we need to do in the lawn example, we need to think about what existing tools are out there that can help us let people find lawn care people, pay, schedule, things like this. All these verbs that happen in this service-based business. We don't want to reinvent the wheel and I see this over and over. People thinking, well, but I need to build my own calendar-booking thing, or I need to build my own version. And you'll see all the exact tools I would use if I were going to go start this business this weekend. So, we're gonna simulate the product experience before we actually go build an app for $50,000 or whatever it might be. So, because we're really interested in lawns by now, if you weren't at the beginning you're loving it now, we need to find a simple way for people to find lawn care providers, schedule, and pay. So, we're pulling out these nouns, and let's break it down. So, the finding part, well, that is kind of solved by default because the finding professionals, it's just part of our business as the lawn person. We're going to have our tribe of lawn mowers who we will have pre-vetted. So, the problem that the customer has and our survey people have of finding lawn care professionals, really is a non problem because that's what our business is. We are vetting and bringing these people to them. The scheduling aspect, this is a great example of where we don't need to go build an app so we can do the scheduling. We would just decide of all the many tools on this slide and the many that are not listed, how could you schedule the lawn appointments? So, you could use scheduling things like Calendly, ScheduleOnce, there's all kinds of software out there that you could use at a ton of different price points. You could if you decide, I don't wanna pay for software, fine. You can do that for very cheaply. You can just use a Google form. Maybe it's like what day of the week are you home, what time ranges? Okay, we will get back to you with three options, and you could make it more manual. Again, it depends maybe if you're doing this with a friend or a co-founder or something, that's more manageable because there's two of you to be able to split that workload but if it's just you, maybe you should spend $10 a month and use Calendly so you could have slots and then people can just go and make an appointment to have the lawn mowed. So that's a great example of how you can use this existing software to not have to go build it out into your app or whatever your experience is. Even with the organizational woman from a little while ago, she would have some component of scheduling those one-on-one appointments where she's going to help people so she would be doing the same thing. The next, the payment process. So again, many payment forms, it always blows my mind how many companies try and build their own payment method or checkout process or something. It's like everyone has used one of these things. Square has just Cash App, I think you can pay within Facebook now. There are many ways to pay online. So, very simple tools you can use, and again, varying budgets as well. So, you need to think about what is the suite of existing software you can use to hack this experience together? The experience meaning finding people to mow the lawn, scheduling the lawn, having the lawn mowed, paying for the lawn, and if you wanna take it further, if you want reviews or something, okay. You could maybe say, okay, for reviews, we're going to send emails. So you have to think what are kind of all the verbs? If you were to storyboard this out, if you will, these are kind of the moments, finding, scheduling, paying, reviewing... Scheduling the next appointment. And then you think, okay, what tools can we use at each step in that flow, in that experience, in that storyboard, whatever you want to call it. But before we ever start doing all that and setting all that up, we need to validate the idea, right? Which is what we've been talking about and building up to this whole time. So, we're going to get into that next. But before we do that, you need to have this execution plan in place so that you know, okay, when it's time, when it's been validated, I know I am going to do these things and these are the tools and software I may use if we get a green light from our landing page and email and we think that we have enough evidence to let us know to keep going.

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Ratings and Reviews


The immensely valuable information in these videos teach exactly how to validate, promote and sell product to your target audience. This course is a few years of marketing school nicely wrapped in the perfect course bundle for every type of business from entrepreneur to enterprise. I have a decade of marketing experience and learned new tricks to immediately use. Wantpraneurs will gain all the knowledge needed to get started with their new business idea in clear, do-able steps. If you are in dev, marketing, UX or business, or want to be, I strongly suggest this class to you.

Amie Kelson

I have taken several CreativeLive courses on how to start a business. This one has some of the best content and practical information on the "what" AND the "how" of validating your products. I highly recommend. The one thing I wish she would have gone into more depth on is how to find people for market research. She covers where to find them, but not enough detail about how to engage them. Even with that missing I would still highly recommend.

Elizabeth Arostegui

The course is really complete and interesting. She shared a lot of useful tools and techniques that can be applied.

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