There are already a lot of great answers, including crowd-sourcing, a test web page, showing a prototype to your future consumers.
I'd like to take a step back and share the 3 coaching tips that I always give to startups (and which founders have found most useful).
Here are the 3 coaching tips :
1. Business is about serving people – Be very clear on which people you are going to serve.
This clarity will help you to define your brand’s tone of voice, your design and graphic world, your pricing, your go to market...
When I understand a startup’s target group is ‘human who breath’ - this happens often- I suggest more focus instead and the following framework:
- Define 2 or 3 target groups you could go after
- For each of these, define the issue your product will solve
- Test with first prototypes (of a product/service/website)
- Adjust and retest until you have 1 specific target group that your product can serve (i.e. solve one of their issues)
- Keep in mind the target group and benefit in everything you do (website, packaging, PR text, etc.)
2. Make sure your product is unique and your target group is ready to PAY for it:
o The unicity can include an innovative or superior product, a competitive price, an innovative go to market model. This will reduce the risk of your competitors piggy backing on your offer. It will also help you to write the story of your product and brand, which will increase your credibility in the market place.
o A target group ready to pay is a guarantee that your idea has potential to turn into a business. Unfortunately, free products to your friends and family won’t be representative of your chances of success in the market place.
3. Starting your business is different from anything else you’ve ever done - Stay humble:
o Start small and focus: many startups come to me with a proposition including multiple lines of products, planning a multi-channel distribution and a multi-social platform approach. Their unfocused approach spreads resources (time, money) in a moment where resources need to focus on increasing your conversion rate with your specific target group.
You can plan tests of course, but start with 1 preferred social network and 1 preferred distribution channel. Learn first, then expand.
o Get coaching in the areas you aren’t an expert: this will reduce the amount of mistakes you will make and maximize your chances of success. You can find mentors in network events or on expert platforms such as Clarity (you are already here, do schedule some calls to find yours :).
These 3 tips stay top line and are designed to get you started. Based on the above, the next step should be a business plan one pager including your target group definition, the issue you are solving, your product or service description and pricing, your distribution channel, and how you are planning to reach the target group. Once you’ve done this, you can start testing, and indeed many shared great tips on best ways to test.
A watch-out for those who currently are working in large corporations like I do: Counter-intuitively, we are among the ones most at risk of making mistakes. Read about mine in My 5 Mistakes As An Entrepreneur Coming From Corporate (www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-5-mistakes-entrepreneur-coming-from-corporate-serena-de-maio).
Good luck in transforming your ideas into business. Despite the difficult bits, the learning curve is steep and exhilarating, you will meet amazing passionate people and it is definitively worth it.