What I learned this week:
Everyone is super nervous to talk about their startup idea, often out of fear that someone might steal it.
However, any time I've ever interviewed a successful entrepreneur I've asked them what the first step to building their business was, and they always tell me they told EVERYONE they knew about their idea to get feedback.
Feedback is unbelievably important in the idea stage, and there's no simpler way to test and prove out your startup idea than by tossing up a quick landing page.
Personally, I use a tool called Carrd - it has limited functionality but it's the cheapest I could find to get started with. When I have a new idea, I find a simple showcase template on carrd, toss in a few sentences about the features I expect the product would have, and most importantly, what problem it would solve.
Then, I create a button on the bottom of the page with a price tag near it. For instance, let's pretend I built a page selling a new google chrome extension that saves you time - I have a button that says "download" with "Buy Now for $1!" above it.
Since this is just a test, the actual button simply leads to a form your potential customers can fill out. You could use Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, doesn't matter. I use Typeform - I ask for the individual's email, and ask them a few questions about what features they're most excited about. And, most importantly, the intro to the form states something like "Hey, I'm super duper glad you're interested in my chrome extension - It's not ready yet, but I would love to get some information from you for when I finish building it!"
Nobody buys anything. I don't make any false promises. But, anyone that fills out that form clicked that price-tagged button - and if they clicked that, I can sort of assume they were planning on paying whatever amount I labeled.
There's no guarantee, but now I have their email, and I can follow up with them later if I manage to gather enough resources to build the startup.
This process takes maybe an hour once you've done it - and you get a ton of feedback on the idea immediately. If you get 100 people to go to your landing page and not a single one clicks on that button, maybe your price is too high - or maybe nobody wants your theoretical product.
But you were able to figure that out without building a thing or taking on any risk at all. You could test a few ideas every week, and if one of them does really well, and you get a ton of clicks and form submissions, then you have a list of future customers you can contact anytime.
If you launch a Kickstarter campaign, you could email that whole list. If you release the product, you can get your first sales that way. You can ask them to follow you on social media for future stuff - anything you want.
This is an underrated validation technique when it comes to building startups. Everyone assumes you have to quit your job and make a bit leap, but why not do this little test first to see if people actually care? It's a lot safer.
And there are plenty of ways to drive traffic to a website, but none of them are easy. You will run into issues there. Personally, I've had a bit of success with asking for advice on places like Facebook groups and running Facebook ads to the page itself.
Here's a guide I wrote to promoting around the internet, and here's another guide to running ads.
Get experimenting! :)
Also, if this was helpful at all, I would love you forever if you retweeted the story - it really helps me get the word out and find cool people making cool things. :)