Founders often start out with a great idea and a whole lot of passion. That’s great! Passion gives you the energy you will need to chase your idea and to try to bring it to market. And yet one of the reasons that so many startups fail is that in all of that excitement, nobody took the time to see if there was in fact anybody out there who was actually willing to part with cash on that idea. That’s too bad, because with a little effort startups could find real buyers with whom to validate and hone their idea before they build anything.
Are you ready to improve your idea’s chances? Here are 4 market interview questions you need to ask before you spend a dime.
How do you experience the business problem our idea solves?
Once you have found targets in your market who have the problem you are trying to solve the goal is then to better understand their unique perspective on the problem. Every company and team are different and so each will have a unique perspective that can inform your business. Thus performing multiple interviews here is key. With multiple interviews you can find commonalities and trends that exist across teams and these can become the focus of your efforts. Feed that back into your idea and improve. Excellent!
Can you please tell me more about that?
Don’t stop at the first answer. Probe deeper and yield all the useful info that you can. You may only get one shot with this person so make all of it that you can. And if your interview subject is short on answers or not much of a talker you’ll need to gently probe a bit. Our favourite question is and always has been: why? With why you can get 3rd, 4th or 5th order answers and this is where the real discovery magic happens.
Also, don’t be nervous about asking for more. When people start out with this kind of interviewing it is natural to be nervous or shy. But don’t be! This person has taken the time out to speak with you so take advantage of it while you can.
What do you think of our solution to your problem?
Now we’re in the thick of things. Once you have a good feel for their unique expression of the problem you can tell them briefly about your solution. Don’t get too deep or technical, just enough for them to get it. Now ask them what they think about your solution. Is it any good? Does it meet their needs? Where can it be improved? You want them to get really talkative here. All the while you can think back to the perspective that they just provided you and frame up what they’re saying. Be careful not to ask leading questions though. You want them to be honest not simply write to the test.
How much would you spend to solve this business problem?
At the end of the day this is all that matters in business, isn’t it? Are they willing to actually spend anything against this problem? If they’re willing, do they have the ability to pay? What is solving this problem worth to them? Big budget? Little budget? How do they plan budgeting for this type of thing? Who is involved in the process?
This is powerful stuff to know right from the start. With this information in hand you can now build out your build out your business plan. Sounds great, right? Knowing ahead of time whether your idea could be bought can and should inform every decision you make regarding your idea and your business.
Now just wait a minute
It can be natural to want to act right away. Don’t. Slow down and consider if you have yet spoken to enough people in your market to know with a great deal of certainty whether or not you are focused on solving a problem that a lot of people have or if it was just a problem of the one person with whom you spoke. There are no hard rules here so you’ll need to weigh things based on your own situation.
Once you’ve found the patterns you’re looking for and you know with a great deal of certainty that you are solving the problems of many and that they are willing to spend real money on your solution, now, now you are ready.