You’ve got a brilliant new idea. Perhaps it’s a new web app, like Basecamp. Perhaps it’s a completely new technology or approach. Or maybe it’s a physical product. How do you know if your idea is viable?
There are a few key signs to look out for. Of course, nothing is ever certain – but having these signs will take you a long way.
A Deep, Loyal, Small Fan Base
People often focus on the breadth of their reach rather than the depth. Yet the depth is what actually indicates your chances of success, not the breadth.
It doesn’t matter if you only have 1,000 users in your first year. What matters is how loyal those 1,000 users are. It’s far, far better to have 1,000 users that come back every day, than it is to have 100,000 users to come to your site for 3 minutes, then leave and never come back.
Cultivating a rabid fan base that loves your product early on is a key indicator of a successful product or service. Early on, Facebook didn’t have much traffic. They only catered to a few universities. Yet venture capitalists were amazed by the site’s potential, because of how loyal users were. People were spending hours a day and coming back every day. It was a vivid early indicator of success.
Create a Product You Would Use
Many of the world’s most successful products come from innovators who just created the product that they wanted to use. They saw a problem that they themselves had and endeavored to solve that problem.
If you have that problem, chances are others do, too. The best way to solve that problem is to build as good a product as you can, using yourself as the barometer. Build the best product you can for yourself and see if it appeal to others.
Turn Off the Sexy Filter
New websites don’t look sexy. Take a look at these 20 popular sites and how they used to look for comparison. If any of their creators had their “sexiness filter” on, it would have flopped.
Instead, measure the potential of the product or service by the value it provides. What unique problem are you solving?
It’s an Iterative Process
Aim to launch with a minimum viable product. In other words, put together version one and get it out the door as soon as possible. Don’t add additional features and don’t try to make it perfect. Get it out the door so you can get real world feedback as soon as possible.
Some of the world’s best ideas look like terrible ideas on the surface. Facebook was, originally, a website for college students to waste time on. Yet if you use these criteria, you’ll be able to peer below the surface and truly see whether or not an idea has potential.