Starting a business comes with a lot of unanswered questions, such as:
- What problem are you solving?
- Is there a market for your idea?
- What is your solution solving, and how?
- Who are your customers?
- What to do first / next, and why?
In this article, we’ll provide you with a practical guide and an overview of options and opportunities to help you decide the next steps in your innovation journey. It will help you take a step back and consider whether you are learning about a problem or already developing a solution and whether you need to research to explore or evaluate. You will also learn about different methods of experimenting and what to use when. Let’s go!
Is your research explorative or evaluative? 🧐
Many founders think they know the exact problem and how the solution will solve it, but that’s commonly not the case. Of course, entrepreneurs need to be passionate about a problem and have a solution in mind; otherwise, they wouldn’t embark on the innovation journey. However, it is crucial to differentiate knowing from assuming. Assumptions are things you accept as correct without evidence to support it. These assumptions are essential to exploring and evaluating any idea:
- They give you direction. 🧭
- They provide a starting point. 🏁
- They break down the problem and solution into smaller, more manageable parts that can be tackled separately. 🔎
Working with assumptions makes the innovation process much more manageable and less overwhelming, so you must embrace not knowing. Only through gathering evidence can you put your hypotheses to the test. Evidence allows you to find out whether your assumptions were accurate or whether they need updating/iterating. It also helps you determine whether or not your idea is stupid.
How do we gather evidence, you might ask? We put our hypotheses to the test. We design experiments that allow us to learn whether our assumptions made sense, get more insights, and learn about the problem and solution. Here’s how to avoid the most common mistakes in this process.
If you want to build a business, you presumably are doing it for people (except if you wish to create something no one ever uses or buys). That’s why you need to run experiments involving humans. Great businesses aren’t just built for people but with people.
Those people (users, customers, clients, whatever you want to call them) are at the core of any business – someone will buy your product or service, use it, love or hate it. You want people to want, need and love it (and ideally recommend it to everyone they know). We figure out how to create a solution for people using explorative and evaluative research.
- Explorative research is about finding new information and insights about the focus of the project, with the aim to develop your idea, your business model, and your product/service.
- Evaluative research is about testing whether something works as expected, aiming to put your idea, business model, and your product/service to the test.
What methods of experimenting exist, and what to use when? 🧪
You have differentiated between problem and solution space and now know about the two types of research. We can use a 2×2 to represent these for intersections and look inside each box (e.g., the top left box is about explorative research in the problem space).
But what methods of experimenting fall into each box? The good news is that many different experiment types can help you test your assumptions. Below you can see how to organise the different methods, so you know your options depending on your goals and stage.
Explorative research in the problem space:
- Desk research: Use this method to explore the problem, the target persona, the target, and the market size utilizing existing information.
- User Interviews: Interviews are how you can get insights from people about a problem and its context.
- User Survey: Survey specific performed behaviours and habits in potential customers.
Evaluative research in the problem space:
- Landing Page Signups: A standalone webpage where potential customers can “land” on when they click through and leave their email.
- Fake Door Test: Fake door is a method of using a landing page to fake the existence of a product or feature without actually developing it.
- Landing Page Dry Wallet: Dry wallet is a landing page method to simulate a “purchase now” experience.
Explorative research in the solution space:
- Competitor Analysis: This research is about constructing a picture of the competitor landscape.
- Concierge Test: This technique allows you to test a solution to a customer problem by manually performing tasks as a service.
- Demo Pitch: Present or pitch your solution using a way to demonstrate your product/service to customers.
Evaluative research in the solution space:
- A/B Testing: Testing variations (A versus B) of the same design simultaneously to determine which performs better by a defined, measurable success metric.
- Survey Product/Market Fit: Survey to find out whether 40% of customers would be “very disappointed” if they could no longer use the product.
- Wizard of Oz Test: You simulate the functionality of a product without using technology. Humans (wizards!) perform everything manually without the customer knowing.
If you want to learn more about each of those experiments in detail, how to set them up properly, what to measure and our best tips & tricks, you can download our free experiments guide for validation below.
10 Experiment Types to Validate your idea
Find the best way to test your hypotheses and execute it sucessfully.