I’m 1 month into my goal of creating a business this year and so far I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to “get started.”
From asking friends about their businesses, to exploring use-case entrepreneurship, to crushing educational books, it’s been a madhouse of different efforts and I’m feeling some serious whiplash as I change directions on a dime as new information gets absorbed.
That being said, one thing has stayed consistent throughout it all: I’ve been trying to find one specific idea to run with.
I’ve been trying to find a market, validate interest, and feel confident that people are interested in the topic I’m exploring.
I’ve done a variety of brainstorming exercises and the one topic I keep coming back to is debt.
People have a lot of it.
And I just so happen to have a lot of experience with debt, as I had $25,000 in credit card debt back in 2014.
Back then, I got to the point where I just couldn’t stand it anymore.
I knew that my interest fees were sucking away my income each month and I knew that high-interest debt was a “hair on fire” type of problem, so I went animalistic on it and paid it all off in 4 months through a combination of drastic cost reduction (I slept in the woods) and creative income growth (I talked my way into consulting gigs).
So while I’ve been considering a handful of ideas, I decided to proceed with the debt topic and I created a Meetup group to help people get out of debt.
Then destiny struck with a tweet from a reporter at a local newspaper.
After a quick direct message on Twitter, things snowballed quickly.
A phone interview, a photographer sent out to meet me, and the next day my pale-white-guy face was on the front page of a newspaper.
What?! How did that happen?
Turns out the reporter had found the Meetup group posting on an online city calendar.
In a frenzy of trying to increase my 1st Meetup’s attendance, I’d emailed a bunch of local universities, posted on Reddit, and created an event listing on an online calendar site, which (while seeming insignificant at the time) ended up making all the difference in the world.
Since getting the press earlier this morning, the Meetup’s attendance has increased 40% and overall membership has increased almost 50%
That’s some pretty good validation that people are at least interested in this topic.
I still have more to do when it comes to validating demand, meaning, interest in whatever product/service I may create for this market, or some segment of this market.
I’ll talk a lot more about demand validation later, but concerning validating interest, I’ve found a few things to be very helpful.
What you can do to start validating interest in an idea RIGHT NOW
- Reach out to anyone you know who might be your ideal audience. For example, some of my friends have debt, so I talked with them to better understand their thoughts on the topic.
- Post on social media. I posted on Facebook that I was helping people with debt and within just a few hours I had a couple messages from friends who wanted help with their student loans.
- Post on Reddit in an appropriate subreddit. In my case, I found multiple threads discussing debt and personal finance. Reddit gets anywhere from 3-8 million views per day, so you can quickly get some attention if your post is well positioned.
- Create or join a Meetup group. You know how “there’s an app for that” buzzed around the internet awhile back? Well the phrase: “there’s a Meetup for that” is virtually true for all common conversation topics. Work, travel, finance, pets, hobbies, sports, games… there’s even a Meetup for nudists! (I wonder if they meet nude…) This is a great way to get in front of people who are interested in your topic/area and have real conversations with them.
- Find out where your audience is likely to hang out (online/offline) and GO THERE. When it comes to debt, I could probably just start pulling people off the street and I’d find a decent number of people in debt. Brainstorm possible hang-outs for your target customer. Computer science students? Drop by a local campus. Fitness fanatics? Find a gym.
Remember that nothing beats 1st hand conversation with a potential customer.
What have you done to validate interest in your topic/idea?