How Failure Helps Validate Your Product

In 2009, my training business suffered its first hit. A guy who begged to work for free ended up stealing all of my clients after opening his own clone further out in town.

What suffered most was my morale, because this guy actually begged to join us so he could have a location for his MLM business. He ended up dumping his dream and joining us full time. In the end, he did the unthinkable.

I was only able to forgive myself for being so gullible when I learnt from those stolen clients how he duped them all and fled town.

But that is not my story for today.

In 2009, I resumed my accelerated learning classes for students, and spend quite a ton of money printing fliers, brochures and all. 

After weeks of marketing, we expected the students to flood in during the long vacations, but we only got 6 students. I was broken. It took so much effort to teach that my students actually began encouraging me. Smh.

The problem was my market. I hadn’t done any research to see if my market was right. By the way, this was in Ado Ekiti.

The parents of school children in Ekiti are still pretty much fixated on the work to get a job mantra that got them where they are today.

The market for accelerated learning was non existent in that state.

Most people take failure very badly, such that they never try again. And it’s not really their fault.

The shock of disappointment can have you wondering who you offended, or who from the underworld is after your success.

I’m here today to tell you that though avoidable, failure may as well be the best thing to happen to you since Christmas chicken.

Take these two guys for example.

Joe and Brian found themselves unable to meet up with their rent in San Francisco. On a whim, they got a couple of air mattresses and sub-rented out sleeping spaces to people. They also spiced it up with the offer of breakfast and charged $80 per night.

They then set up a small website named 2 men and a lady showed up.

For two broke guys, waking up with $240 seemed like a big deal, and they decided to take it a notch up. Unfortunately, it seemed the luck genie had gone to bed. They made only 200 quid for many weeks.

They brought in their former roommate as web designer, still nothing changed. 

Even when they raised $30,000 from a side business, and another $20,000 from a VC, Y Combinator, they still couldn’t push above $200 per week.

Then someone commented that their room photos were crappy. So they got real photography equipment, and pimped up the shots.

Then sales went up.

Fast forward today, they are valued at $10,000,000,000.

It all began with failure. And failure after failure got them moving, like the blind earthworm looking to burrow into the soil.

They nailed it in under 10 years, and you can too -if you have the stomach for failure.

And if you don’t, for Gods sake, do some research first. Start by asking and answering questions, not by developing a product.

Here’s how to get it right from scratch:

1. Start by asking and answering questions, not by developing a product.

We did this with Social Siphon. People were coming to us with questions about Facebook ads. They said: “We’re spending all this money on advertising, but we aren’t getting any results.” 

Social siphon by CabalFood

Only then, did we start digging deeper into the topic and thinking about creating a product that solves that problem. We didn’t just develop a product that “felt like a great idea”.

2. As soon as you have an idea, start mining for feedback.

Don’t hide in your whatever, room or office, developing it for months and then come out, wave it and ask: “What do you think?” That’s just like what a toddler would do with your best shirt and ask you what you think. 

“I think I’m gonna scream at you!”

Ask for feedback right away.

Want to know if people will pay for your product?

Easy. Ask them to pay for it.

Maybe based on my past epic fails, I’m now too shy to just launch anything anytime I feel the spirit.

I’d rather market it first, then start creating it the moment I hear kaching! You should do likewise.

According to Neil Patel, “It might seem counter-intuitive to ask for money before you have a product. But, if you think about it, you’re paying in advance for things all the time. Movie tickets, flights, concerts, events, gym memberships, and, and, and…You pay for all these things, whether you end up going or not.”

Validating your product is even better – in some cases, because you can just give back the money, if you don’t end up building it.

Validation remains the smartest way to build your business in 2017. You won’t go bust, you won’t owe shit.

Try it, it works.

I’ve created a massive worksheet to help you determine if your product will be a hit or a miss. You can get it here. It is the ultimate market intelligence tool and it applies to any field.

Seriously, you don’t want to be marketing anything until you’ve used this worksheet.

Thank me later.

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