What do you do when an idea you’ve been working on diligently for a long time does not validate? What does this even mean? Where do you go for validation, both of your idea, and of yourself as a person? In your pursuits as an entrepreneur, you will find that even after doing a lot of research, launching a prototype may result in a flop. You might ask yourself what caused this. Here are some words of advice:
Look at your research. If you perceive you have validation for your idea, and upon launching it is not panning out, it could be because your research was not conducted properly. Maybe you talked to the wrong archetype customers. Maybe you did target the right people, but did not use non-leading questions when addressing them. Maybe you showed a solution too early to a problem that you perceive your target audience has, preempting their analysis. This could lead many of your interviewees to play nice with you as they comment on your findings before truly analyzing what their pain points are. Customer discovery is about gaining insight to the causes of your target market’s unhappiness. It takes a very non-leading approach and rapport development skills to really do this effectively 100% of the time. Very few people are experts at this. The only way to hone your skills at this is by repeated tries and failures. The faster you go through that cycle, the better an expert you will become when things go wrong and you can later draw conclusions on the correlation of your research and your results.
What should you do when you fail? What should you do when you reach the point when you know you have to address change in your strategy, in your tactics, maybe in your whole project idea? Here are some words of advice:
Frame the failure as an opportunity to be realized instead of a challenge to be dreaded. Short term failures are good; they help you develop the skill of embracing change. Don’t get to the end of your research without questioning yourself all the time along the way. Through your journey, touch base with a mentor or an accountability partner who can keep you grounded. When too involved in a project, you fall in love with it and you want it to succeed so much that you start looking at things through rose colored glasses. Act cynical with yourself. Run afraid all the time. It can be uncomfortable, but the more comfortable you become at being that way when dealing with an innovation project, the deeper the learning will be and the better your chance will be of covering all the bases. Stay in it for the long term, and develop the shield against the failures that you will definitely encounter, by building an identity that is bigger than your professional identity as an entrepreneur. You are more than just a struggling entrepreneur. Maybe you are a mother, a father, a grandparent, a sister or brother. Maybe you are a caretaker, or a coach to others, or a teacher, or an entertainer. You are probably very important to others in their lives, or at the service of others in many ways. Reflect on what you are lucky to have achieved until now. Stay grounded on this “YOU”, with capital letters, as the other you, the entrepreneur, battles through to achieve market success.