If you’re like me, you want to rush and start building an MVP as soon as you have an idea. I’ve done it in the past, and I failed. Every time.
I failed because the product isn’t the most important part of your startup; customers are. That’s what you should focus on from day 1.
Don’t start with building. Start with selling
I know it’s tempting to start by coding, even more for people with a technical background like me.
Building a product is a nice way to head down and follow your dream without talking to anyone. But you really shouldn’t do it that way.
I used to think that you should get people on the phone to try to understand their pains, but I was also wrong (and I failed).
Instead, start with selling. Now, right before anything else.
That's how you will validate your business and how you’ll know that you should start building.
Even better, now that you have clients, you can spend the money on building and marketing!
Sell before having an MVP
But how can I sell something I don’t have, you might say. The answer is a very well-known quote in the startup world
Do things that don’t scale
It sounds obvious, but it took me years to really understand it.
I know you have a great vision for your idea: you want a SaaS model with $100k MRR.
But first, sell some service, replace all the coding by you doing everything manually, and then sell it.
THEN, if you sold a few, you can start automating the process.
You have several tactics to start by selling your product. Here are a few, but feel free to reply to this email with the ones that worked for you.
1. Cold outreach
That’s the easiest way, reach out to people that might be your customer and tell them what you’re working on.
You don’t have to build anything yet. Write down your value proposition and send it to your network on Twitter, LinkedIn, or via email.
Here is an example of what I did for my last idea (it’s a Twitter DM):
Hey, I'm working on a new project: a XXXXXXX.
It's still super early, and I'm looking for feedback. I'll get you 50 XXXXX for free. All you need to do is answer a few questions.
Is that something that sounds interesting to you?
And it worked VERY well.
I got more than 40% response rate and 15 beta testers.
I validated the pain. Now I need to validate the offer by following up with the people that received the “lead magnet.”
2. Sell with a landing page
If you can’t offer the very first version of your idea as a service, then build a landing page (with Carrd).
Describe precisely what you want to create, and get eyeballs on it. Try to be as precise as possible. Add some pictures or even a video of the wireframe.
At the bottom of the page, add a “Buy” button with a big discount (let’s say 50% off).
Test, measure, and adapt.
If you can give something for free right off the bat, it’s even better - the people don’t have to wait for months/weeks before getting something, and you get their email addresses!
3. Create a community
Finally, one of the ways to validate your idea is to create a community of beta testers when you’re just starting.
It works very well for ebooks or any info products, for instance.
Invite people in a Discord chan, share everything with them, and collect feedback.
You’ll create some fans around your product, they will help you build a better product, and they’ll support you during the launches!
That’s a wrap
I hope these few ideas will help you build your next idea correctly!
Let me know if you already tested it and if it worked - just hit reply I’ll answer every email
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This strategy is so baked into people's head that when you actually build something and toss a url out there where they can download the product, they ask you where they can subscribe to the waiting list.
And I'm like what kind of waiting list, there's literally a download button on the page.
Makes me think if the strategy really works - like for everyone - or it's just for indie hackers who already know about this.
Love this man.
I'm a developer and I can't tell you how many things I've shipped to Netlify without validating first! Thousands of lines of code... hours and hours of time I won't get back.