Building a Better Small Business Part 2: Taking Your Ideas for a Test Drive

When I was about to graduate with my Bachelors in Business Information Systems, I was faced with a tough decision. The University had arranged interviews with an aeronautics company and pretty much all my classmates who walked into the interview landed the job. The pay was not shabby either, it was actually higher than average with a good package to boot. It was a sweet deal out the door but here I was on the fence. I had to make a choice whether to go into the interview which would most likely land me a job right out of school or pass on the opportunity. I struggled with that decision because I was not big on starting my career out in the aeronautics industry. It just did not appeal to me.

Taking my Assumptions for a test drive

After some thought, I decided the fit was not quite right so I passed on the opportunity. I believed that if I put together a resume, put it up on job sites as well as sent direct inquiries to job listings, I will quickly land a job so I did just that, confident I will get a response. Instead, I got … silence!

Making Adjustments

I knew what I had to offer but I was not connecting with my customer (the hiring company) as quickly as I had hoped. I went back to the drawing board, educated myself on resume building and job search techniques, tweaked my resume and tried again. After a few tries, I started getting interest from recruiters. I also had some job interviews lined up.  Some of the jobs that had reached out to interview me were not the right fit but I went to the interviews anyway. My goal at the time was to improve on my interview skills and build up my confidence.

After some improvements on my interviewing skills, I landed a few offers but not one I was interested in taking.

Finding the right fit

One day I received a call from a recruiter who had interviewed me before. She had an opportunity she wanted to present to me. However, this opportunity had a bit of competition from more experienced candidates and required me to take a test to assess my skills to determine if I was going to be the right fit. The opportunity was with a financial company and in an area that appealed to me. The package was just as lucrative as the one I had passed up at school so I decided to go for it and did what I could to prepare for the test. After the test, the recruiter informed me that I was one of 2 candidates who had scored highest in the test so we were progressed to the next step which was in in-person interview.  After having gone to multiple interviews and having the opportunity to improve on my pitch, I was able to perform well at the interview and was hired on the spot.

The point of all this

Why am I telling you all of this? I am sharing this story because in many areas in life we test out our assumptions, and make improvements to become better whether we do so consciously or not. If you look at my story above, you will notice a few things which I have listed below:

  •  I had my skill set to sell and I started out with a hypothesis about how to find the right job fit.
  • When I actually went out and tested my hypothesis, I did not get the anticipated results. I had to learn from each attempt, make adjustments and try again over and over and in the process, I got better.
  • With what I had learned, I became a better candidate and landed the job with the fit I was looking for at the time.

How does this apply to the hypothesis you worked on last week?

This week, you are going to take your idea out for a test drive. This is where you learn, make adjustments, try again and refine your idea.

This week’s activity

  • Research The Pain Point Assumption: Do a little more research about your customer’s pain point to help refine your hypothesis. You can do so by the following activities.
    • Research Online:
      • Go to and look for books/products that attempt to address your customer’s pain point and read the comments in the review section.
      • Use Google’s Keyword Planner to research keywords that your target audience may be searching for
      • Go to Quora and look up questions relating to your idea that are being asked
    • Ask Potential Customers: Identify which of your target customer profiles is going to be most motivated to use your product then speak to at least 20 people who closely match your most motivated target customer’s profile. At minimum 10 of the people you speak to should be people you don’t know. You want to learn more about the following:
      • Are your assumptions about the problem correct?
      • How important is this problem to your customer?
      • Will your potential customer consider hiring your solution to address the problem?
      • What will they be willing to pay for the solution?
  • Test Drive with a Minimum Viable Product: Understand that your product will need to go through a few improvements as you learn more about your hypothesis. Set a small goal within a time boxed timeframe that will build you up toward your product launch and test out the goal. For example, if you have a cooking blog and determine that you will like to sell a particular spice to your users that is not easy to find, you can then plan a set of activities within a 2 week period that you believe will generate a target number of preorders for your spice. This is even before you have the product available for distribution. What you are measuring is interest and how many customers will actually pay for your product. If you don’t get the interest you expected, that does not mean your idea is not good. It may just mean your approach needs to be tweaked a little bit. This is a less expensive way to test out an idea before you go spend money mass producing a product. If it does turn out that your idea is on track then keep expanding your test and make adjustments as you progress toward your product launch. The key here is to find out your loopholes quickly, make adjustments quickly and improve the solution so that when you actually get to product launch, you will have a product that will be most likely to succeed.

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