- 5.5.2 -

How can you test your idea?

You cannot guess and assume your way to a brilliant idea; you also have to test it in the real world of people and markets. It’s also important to bear in mind that innovation is not something that only works from the inside out; it works the other way around, too. That is, the eventual users (outside) can provide you with invaluable information and insights that can help shape your concepts (inside).

Therefore, ask people from your target groups – and friends, associates and acquaintances, too – what they think of your idea. While you’re at it, don’t just ask, “Do you like it?” Also ask them, “What could I do to make better?” and “How could this be made more useful? More exciting?” This gets people thinking – and their answers can give you new insights and get you thinking smarter, too.

Thank them for their answers, but be careful. Don’t rush into making any changes to your brilliant idea based on someone’s random comment, complaint or suggestion. Examine it, think it all the way through and test it carefully before messing with an idea you’ve worked so hard to create. Of course, if you are hearing the same things again and again from different people, take it to heart.

Another step that can sharpen your idea and enhance its impact is simplification and streamlining. You and your team should examine the idea and your whole presentation of it. First, make sure you’ve stated what your core idea is. Then ask yourself if there is anything about your plan, your brand or any of your marketing ideas or materials that does not clearly forward your core concept and message. Anything that doesn’t contribute should be stripped away.

Now, if you spot something that could be added, that would contribute to the message in a major and important way, congratulations! But be sure it integrates well with everything else you plan to put out, and won’t distract or confuse in any way. The more focused and on-message you stay, the better. Strive for greater simplicity; better communication and im- pact will follow.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

If you’re a creative personality (as of course you are!) and have assembled an innovative company, you will find that you’re ahead of your customers and users. You know things that they don’t know, and have come up with a brilliant solution that they haven’t even conceived of yet. In fact, you’re very likely about to offer them something they don’t yet even know they need or want!

A wise man once said, “How can you ask your target group what they need, if they do not know what they are missing?” Well said.

The legendary Steve Jobs said, “All the experts disagreed that the market needed an iPad.”

Henry Ford once observed, “If I had asked the people and consumers what they wanted the most, they would have said ‘a faster horse.’”

If you study a bit, you discover that it’s always been this way among great entrepreneurs. In other words, great entrepreneurs understand their market beyond just the results of analyses, and they trust their gut feelings over numbers and reports.

It can be difficult to come up with a brilliant idea, and most who have originated such ideas have worked long and hard to attain them – with many failures along the way.

One commonly quoted rule of thumb says it’s better to launch an IT concept early, rather than wait until you’ve created the perfect version. This rule is fine if you cannot afford to wait, or do not have the developing power needed to hold off on launching. An early launch also allows you to get early feedback from customers and users – useful in refining your offering.

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