Entrepreneurs are natural innovators – even before they earn the title of “entrepreneur”. An entrepreneur is defined by their innate curiosity, desire to push boundaries, and willingness to explore bold ideas: the same traits that led to some of the world’s top companies and inventions. 

If you’re looking to start your own business, you likely already have an idea in mind. But, how do you test your idea to take it from a dream to a reality? With hard work, strategic planning, and the proper knowledge, you’ll be ready to open your doors in no time.

Why is Ideation the Hardest Step in Entrepreneurship?

Out of all the phases of business development, the transition from ideation to action is one of the most challenging and work-intensive. This stage of the process is where you lay the groundwork for your business to grow. Many budding entrepreneurs don’t know where to start simply because they usually haven’t ventured out on their own before or even experienced the entrepreneurial process up close. 

Veteran entrepreneurs have the leg up in the ideation phase because they’ve been through the process before and likely have continued to develop early ideations throughout their careers. However, for newbies, the ideation phase often coincides with new entrepreneurs getting their feet wet and sorting out the basics of business ownership and what that entails. 

That lack of familiarity with the business incubation and startup process also means that many entrepreneurs, especially first-timers, tend to underestimate the importance of testing their ideas before jumping into action. According to some statistics, a high percentage of startups fail – up to 90% of the time. Unfortunately, many businesses fail early in their lifecycles because they lack planning and proper testing.

Figuring out how to test your idea thoroughly and realistically is a crucial indicator of your business’s success in the real world, so early on, investing in the ideation and testing process is a must. 

There are a few main reasons why you need to put your idea to the test before hitting the pavement:

#1: Avoiding the “Echo Chamber” Trap

In the early stages of ideation, it can be easy to get carried away. Once you stumble upon an idea that feels like a winner, it can be hard to take a step back and think objectively – especially when loved ones are showing you support. We call that the “echo chamber” or “mom test” trap. 

While it’s okay to be excited about your ideas and seek support from friends and family, you don’t want to put the blinders on and rule out other ideas prematurely or fail to self-critique. Naturally, the people that support you and love you most will think your ideas are genius. Still, you don’t want to fall into the echo chamber trap without careful objectivity and examination – especially this early in the process.

If you don’t examine your ideas objectively, you could overlook critical flaws in your idea, miss out on opportunities for improvement, or even eventually regret your choices down the line.

#2: To Collect Data Through Collaboration and Lived Experience

One of the main goals of testing your idea is to collect data, and while it may sound intimidating, data is all around us. Data is the fuel that pushes your ideas into motion and allows you to make essential fixes along the way. You’re collecting data when you share your ideas with others and receive feedback. Now is the time to dive into your experiences as a consumer and get curious about how the experiences of others will impact your idea in the market. 

Entrepreneurship, at its core, is all about being able to take yourself back to a state of child-like curiosity. When we’re children, we test and play and share our ideas without restraint. But, as adults, we start to feel weary of sharing ideas and being open to failure because we’ve been shaped by previous negative experiences leading to feelings of rejection, judgment, and shame. 

Push past the fear of criticism and rejection and embrace data collection from the eyes of a child; play around, be open to mistakes, and remember there is no right or wrong answer. Every outcome gives you more data to work with.

Testing your idea creates the blueprint that tells you where to go next – but data gives you the pencil to design with.

#3: To Ensure Your Target Market is Well-Aligned

Many early entrepreneurs wrongly assume that they are the ideal target audience for their idea: after all, many entrepreneurs’ ideas come from their own lived experiences. However, you must explore the market without bias to determine where your best consumer alignment lies. Unless you are 100% positive that you are your target market, you shouldn’t be trying to test something inside your head. 

To give your idea a fair shot in the business world, you need to take your idea out into the open among numerous consumer markets to determine the ideal target audience and how you can best appeal to them. When you make assumptions about what customers want, you’re jumping ahead and spending money with confidence in a way that you don’t have permission to do just yet – fight the temptation to jump ahead and refocus on where you’re at now and not where you would like to be. Once you’re empowered to take action and put your idea to the test, you need to know how to test your idea. So, where do you start when it comes to testing?

Workshop your Idea 

When first starting out, especially if this is your first venture into entrepreneurship, you want to master the art of the elevator pitch so that when you get to the pitching room floor, it’s second nature – that means the more practice, the better. While many hear the word “workshop” and feel intimidated, workshopping your idea is a gradual process you can approach at your own speed. 

Start with the basics and meet yourself where you’re at, pitch to yourself in the mirror while you get ready, or record yourself on video until it feels comfortable and natural. Surround yourself with inspiration, so you know what a confident and concise pitch looks and feels like. There’s nothing wrong with testing your idea on friends and family first. This is a great place to start, as long as you beware of the “mom test” trap we discussed above.

Early workshopping helps you gauge how audiences will react to your idea and how easily you can explain it in layman’s terms – remember the KISS acronym: keep it super simple. From there, you can workshop your idea on acquaintances, connections you might know in relevant industries, and even on polls and networking forums. Keep detailed notes of your interactions and experiences while workshopping, as they will come in handy later as you grow. 

Once you’ve mastered the casual pitch, you might want to take things to the next level and explore what other resources for entrepreneurs exist. At this stage of the process, it’s essential to lean on the community and resources around you. Remember: entrepreneurship is a journey of self-growth as professional growth – the more you learn along the way, the more you’ll have to pour into your business. 
There’s a wealth of resources for ideating entrepreneurs available for free or low cost, from local business incubators to online courses and networking opportunities to connect with other ideators and successful entrepreneurs that have been in your shoes before. Surrounding yourself with ideators and entrepreneurs can help build your confidence and help you learn from the lessons of others.

Get To Know Your Ideal Customer Through Market Research

If everything goes to plan, the workshopping phase should prepare you to either step back to the drawing board and reconsider your target market or help you feel supported to move ahead. Now, it’s time to start setting some early action in motion to gather data from the market response. Aim to paint a clear image in your mind of how your ideal customer looks and thinks. Consider your ideal customer a close friend. You need to know their pain points, likes, dislikes, and motivations. 

A great way to get inside the minds of your ideal customers is to pick their brains. Market validation services can be a great tool to help you paint a more detailed picture of your ideal customer through direct surveys. While it requires an investment in time and assets, you’ll gather invaluable insights into your predicted customer base – from their likes and dislikes, what products and services they would be interested in, and how they spend money. 

At this phase of the journey, you can also begin developing mockups of branding ideas, early website pages, and advertisements with calls to action to further determine your idea’s strength and where your personal skillset lies. For example, if you have a background in website development, you might feel comfortable tackling that in-house but require outside experts for marketing and advertising needs.

The market research phase is a great time to reflect on the insights you’ve gathered thus far. What lessons did you learn from workshopping? Have you noticed any trends concerning your business idea? How can you set yourself up for success early? What will your needs look like as your business idea develops further into fruition?

Keep Your Friends Close… And Your Competition Closer

Before you hit the ground running, you need to know the arena you’re walking into and what you’ll be up against when your “game time” comes around. In many ways, the entrepreneurial journey is similar to the process that professional athletes follow; while you might not be playing the Super Bowl your first season out, you need to learn about the industry “giants” around you and how they play the game. That’s where industry landscape analysis comes in. 

An industry landscape analysis prepares you to put your research and testing to work as you transition from the development phase into launching your business in the real world. Keep three goals in mind as you compile your analysis: understand the pain points that companies in the field face, competitor wins and losses, and what could be coming next in your industry. 

This report can be as straightforward or formal as you like, but it must include a few key components: insights into the current and future state of the industry and your main competitors. Industry analysis can also be a great place for collaboration – leaning on your networking contacts, especially in-industry, can provide you with a fresh perspective. This is especially important if your product or service exists inside a volatile industry with trends that frequently change, such as technology or finance. 

Remember: a little competition is healthy, and almost no entrepreneur enters a market unopposed. This isn’t about seeing competition as a threat – it’s about identifying ways to make your idea even stronger by learning about what your competitors do well (and the weak points they have that your idea can ideally solve). 

Want to test your idea but need help getting started? Clear Function is here to help. Our team of startup development experts has experience working with real entrepreneurs every day, at every phase of the lifecycle – so you can rest easy knowing your business is in good hands. Our goal is to help you minimize risk and get to market quickly. With marketing specialists, business coaches, and top-notch developers, we’re here to increase your chances of success.

You spend time and money every day developing your digital product into something you are proud of. As much as you try to perfect your products, glitches and bugs will always happen. With a tight schedule, how can you ensure that you find the problems and address them quickly? Welcome to the support department. 

The support department is exactly what it sounds like. A spot for customers to voice complaints or issues they have with your product and a dedicated individual or team to assist. They are common practice for stores that consistently deal with account and shipping issues, but you may not realize that they are just as important for digital products because of the benefit they bring in getting valuable feedback.

Support is so important, that we recommend developing it during the early stages of your digital product build. But if your product is already built, that’s okay! You can meet with your developer to discuss integrating a support department into your product easily. Let’s go through the different support department options to find which works best for you and your product. 

  1. Email

Sending a quick support email to receive help is probably the easiest solution for the customer and creator. With email support, you can automatically send a response email to the customer to let them know that their concern is valid and will be addressed as soon as possible. This also requires minimal development work to place an email address button and text into your digital product. 

  1. Phone

Phone support is an easy and direct way for a customer to receive assistance. You can easily add a phone number or call button to your website, but it is important to train your staff and provide them with scripts to best serve your customers. For small businesses, make sure you set hours that you will answer phone calls and stick to them – you don’t want to be answering calls on your off hours! 

  1. Chat

Chat support allows customers to type a quick question or concern and either a team member or automated bot can reply to them. This frees up employees’ time as they can let the bot handle quick fixes while they can assist complicated questions. The chat option requires more development work as it is more complicated, but there are plenty of pre-built chat tools on the market that you can add to your website with very little effort. 

  1. Social Media

Opening up your social media accounts to allow customers to request support is a user-friendly option. If you decide to do this, check your messages often as it can be easy to overlook them. 

  1. Combination

The best option, and what most companies tend to lean towards, is a combination of some of all of the above-listed options. Letting customers choose which option best fits helps them build trust with your business. While it is more work to integrate every support option into your application, it can pay off in the long run.

Who Offers Support?

With multiple options available for customers to ask for support, you need a clear plan about who will answer the support tickets and exactly what that support is. Clear Function recommends the three-step plan for providing support: founder, founder + one, and finally support team. 


As the creator of your application, you know the most about its mission and the technical aspects behind it. If anyone is poised to offer the best support, it’s you! Until you feel like you cannot adequately answer the support tickets, they should all be directed toward you. 

Founder + One

When you find that the tickets are piling up and you can’t answer them all on your own, you should consider bringing in another person. When looking for a new employee make sure that they share the same values as your company and that you efficiently communicate your mission and vision. Train them on how to complete tickets and be a resource to them if they have questions.

Support Team

The bigger your customer base, the more support tickets and the more employees you will need to handle them. You could decide to outsource your support team, but they need to be clear on your values and expectations for customer service. Provide scripts, check in regularly, and ask customers to complete surveys.

They should be trained to turn every negative statement into a positive one. For example, if a customer says that they are upset with the user experience of the app, the support team could ask for ways the app could be improved and then offer a discount for any future purchases. That way you are building a relationship with the customer and receiving valuable feedback for new versions. 

Important things to consider:

  • What kind of support will I offer?
  • Internal support team vs. external support team
  • How do you want your business represented on support tickets?
  • Negative feedback can always be turned into positive
  • The more you know about your customers, the better you can help them
  • Don’t start a department until you have a good working system in place for supporting people.

Interested in learning more about how Clear Function can help you start a support department for your digital product? Contact us today to talk with our experts! 

If you are coming to this article, it means that you have an idea for an app or are looking into the process of app development. We are experts in this field and sharing this valuable information can help you on your journey to entering the technology world! Our process typically involves 8 steps that take you from idea to marketing your completed application.

It is important to note that not all of the steps mentioned throughout this article might apply to you. If you are coming to Clear Function with an already validated idea for your application, you will be able to skip ahead on the timeline.

Starting the process by talking with a development agency, where you can discuss the idea with a business coach, is the best way to begin (and save you valuable time and money!)

Step 1: Ideation Coaching

The first step in developing a mobile app actually doesn’t involve any technology. Ideation coaching is the process of finding new problems to solve in your area of expertise. When you break down your experience and the problems that you and others like you deal with, you can find possible solutions to create.

Throughout the ideation phase, you will constantly be validating. This process includes validating the problem, the solution, customer group, and even whether or not this solution is even needed. Validating early on is essential to have a successful, marketable digital app.

Step 2: Brand Identity Coaching

The next step is to develop your brand identity. The way you market your company to the public and the language used can make or break your product. If you start with a strong brand identity from the beginning, you will already have customers who know your mission, values, and beliefs by the time you launch your product.

Step 3: App Feature Audit

Now that you know the solution you are going to build and who you are as a company, it’s time to audit what features you are going to include.

It is important to note that the first version you release to the public will be a minimum viable product (MVP). This version of your app will have a small number of features and cost less to develop. To determine what features your product needs to include, ask the people who experience the problem! Ask them questions like “what would you need in a solution for the problem?” and “how could a solution make your life better?” Record all of the answers and brainstorm with your business coach to determine which features you should include in the first version.

Step 4: Detail Scoping

As you get closer to design and development, you will want to make sure that every detail is planned out and that you aren’t missing any gaps in the plan.

Here are a few things to go over before the next step:

  • Determine who the user types are for the product. This is everyone from the admin behind the curtain to the customer using your app at their home.
  • Where are your customers located? Are they local or international? Do they live in rural areas or big cities?
  • What integrations are necessary for your product to work? This could be as simple as Google Calendar or a more complex system you will need to build out.
  • How are you going to earn revenue? Will you use in-app ads or a monthly subscription rate?
  • How soon will you recover the expenses of development and what does your first-year income look like?

Step 5: App Design

Now that you have done the hard work, the fun part begins! During this step, you will begin to craft what the actual product will look like. The designs you create during this step help guide the development of your app.

The design of your app should be done in phases. Throughout each phase, you share the designs with a select group of target customers to gain feedback. That feedback will guide the next version until it is perfect.

  • Phase 1 – Wireframes: a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of an application.
  • Phase 2 – Mockups: nicely designed outline of the app used for testing
  • Phase 3 – Graphic design: a more detailed version of a mockup that looks and feels like the final version.
  • Phase 4 – Clickable prototypes: the final phase of design where you incorporate all the feedback and previous phases. This version should be clickable and easily navigable.

Step 6: App Development

The biggest question people have at this stage is: how much will it cost to build my app? The price of development is a unique variable and can vary from each agency. At Clear Function, we strive to find the best price for our customers by using different development packages like coaching + development.

Coaching, brand identity, ideation, and design all have fixed prices. You don’t have to put a lot of work into how much it’s going to cost you because you already know. As you get towards the end of design you will have a better understanding of how many hours you will need for development. Some projects could be simple and cost around $10-20 thousand while other more complicated projects could cost as much as half a million.

We recommend starting small and building an MVP. It will save you money and allow you to test if the product has a chance for market success. If you are looking for other ways to save money you can consider going offshore for the development with a local project manager. You will still have someone looking out for your and your product’s best interests, but with a much cheaper hourly rate.

Generally speaking, development can take 3-6 months depending on the size of the project. This can be a big investment, so it’s important to talk with your agency to find the best plan for your product.

Step 7: Consumer Testing

Once you are done with the initial phases of development, it’s time to begin testing. Use the same group of people you have asked for feedback during the earlier steps. Ask them to be detailed and record any bugs, improvements, or design flaws. Create tickets with the needed fixes and send them to the developers throughout this step.

Step 8: Launch

Time to release your product to the market! This step is at the end of our plan, but can technically start at the very beginning. When you first decide on the name and purpose of your product, create a website, start collecting email addresses and start to interact on social media.

When it’s time to launch your product, you will already have a dedicated customer group who are excited to see you succeed. Launch day should be fun and interactive as you finally get to see customers use your product.

Ongoing Steps

  • Marketing: Running Facebook page like ads, gathering email addresses, engaging on social media, and creating buzz.
  • Feedback: Create a Facebook or other online group where you can invite a group of select insiders. Ask them for insight on each decision you make to help create a product that customers will actually want.
  • Coaching: Business coaching is a valuable resource and can be done at every step of the process. Your business coach will help you think of the next steps, other money-making opportunities, and how to define who you are as a company.

Get Started Creating Your App!

Are you ready to create your app or are you interested in finding a problem to solve in your area of expertise? Schedule a Discovery call today and talk with our digital experts! We are excited to guide you through the process!

Developing a digital product and making a profit is a dream for many first time entrepreneurs. Taking your idea and working with developers is an exciting step towards your ultimate goal but before you get there it is important to validate many parts of the process. These crucial first steps are more accurately described as finding ‘product/market fit.’

Product/market fit is the degree to which a product satisfies strong market demand. Being able to accurately prove that your product can be successful and that it has features that make it unique is crucial. If you don’t identify product/market fit early on, you could run the risk of failing on the market and losing money.

If you missed our first article, you will want to check it out to get a better understanding of defining product/market fit. We also discuss finding the problem your product seeks to solve and validating that the problem is one experienced by real-life people.

The purpose of today’s article is to take you through the process of finding a solution for the problem you are experiencing, through the lens of product/market fit. Your solution is what will be sold and what will bring you a profit. Getting your solution right from the beginning and validating it with real customers is very important.

8 Steps to Validate Your Solution

Once you know what problem you are going to solve, it is time to find a solution that will help the people who experience it.

Brainstorm possible solutions to the problem you have identified. Come up with several possibilities and work through them, developing features and guidelines along the way. Single out the solution with the most potential and then follow these 7 steps to validate your idea and discover the best version.

Step 1: Find a target group of people who are experiencing the problem your solution will solve.

This could be an in-person group that you meet with at work or a group of friends you meet with over coffee. If you can’t meet in person, create a private Facebook group where you can add members from all over the world. This group will be around throughout the development of your solution and will help with product testing. Rely on them for crucial feedback and honest advice.

Step 2: Present wireframes to your target group.

Roughly sketch out your solution on a piece of paper and take it to your target group. At this stage don’t worry about creating full-blown renderings before you have gathered feedback. What you need is a basic outline of the layout and user interface. Here is an easy guide to creating wireframes.

Step 3: Ask questions to understand.

Ask for initial thoughts and explain the different features that the solution will offer. Questions like “would this product be helpful for you?” can help spark an important discussion into what is actually needed in the solution. The more questions you ask, the more you will understand about the solution and the target customer.

Step 4: Repeat

Repeat steps 2 and 3 before you move on. You want to make sure that the wireframes are going in the correct direction before you proceed. Rework them, present them to your target group, and ask questions. As you continue, the steps will get more expensive so if you can save money during any phase you will want to take advantage of that.

Step 5: Take feedback and rework your solution.

Once you have the feedback from your target group, create mockups. A mockup is similar to a wireframe but includes more visual aspects of what the product is actually going to look like. Include more details based on your feedback, but still, keep the time you invest in this stage relatively small as things will change.

Step 6: Present mockups to your target group.

Once again go back to your target group and present the designs to them. They will have a better understanding of what the solution will look like at this stage.

Step 7: Ask questions to understand.

If you feel like we are repeating ourselves, we are! Asking questions and listening is very important throughout this entire process. You have a group of target customers who are invested in your solution and in your journey. Take advantage of that to craft your solution into a product that is wanted and needed by people experiencing the problem.

Step 8: Repeat until finished.

Continue to tweak your design until it satisfies your target group. Try other forms to gather feedback like graphic designs and clickable prototypes. When you work with a developer, they will provide these designs throughout the process.

Prove Product/Market Fit by Identifying Your Competition

After you have decided on the problem you will solve, and crafted a solution that fits the needs of your target group, it is time to study your competition in-depth. If a product similar to yours is already on the market it is better to know that before you begin full-blown development. While you are still in the design phase you can learn from your competition what works and what doesn’t.

Visit the marketplaces for software and apps, and view similar products to yours. Read the reviews and see what real customers are saying. Note the features they offer and how they differentiate from your product. Once you have studied your competition you will have a better understanding of the impact your product will have.

If you have reviewed your competition and realized that it is very similar to one already on the market, revisit your designs. Trying to be the front runner over a product that already has a high number of users is hard. How can your product differ so that you can both have a valued place on the market?

Develop an MVP

When you are ready to begin the development of your solution, the first version you will create is an MVP. This stands for ‘minimum viable product’ and is a full-scale test of a product, at its most basic form. MVP’s allow you to test your product without spending large amounts of money and time on development. You are able to see if a product will be successful or if you need to reevaluate the features and purpose of the product.

Validate Product/Market Fit With Your Completed Design

Now that you have tested your solution among a targeted group, studied your competition, and built an MVP, it is time to take the solution to a larger group of customers. Finding product/market fit online is easy if you are willing to put the work into it. Here are a few ways we recommend to get started.

Social Media: You can easily accomplish testing for product/market fit by creating profiles and groups on various social media platforms. Post about your product and ask for honest feedback.

Landing Page: You can also create a landing page for your product and begin to collect email addresses. Run ads to the landing page and when you have accumulated a moderate amount of email addresses you can begin to send out surveys to gather feedback.

Pre-Sale: Run a pre-sale through your landing page to see if customers are interested. This could be several months before your product release and could include incentives for those who pre-order. If only a small amount of people are interested you need to reexamine your marketing strategy.

Get Started Finding Your Product/Market Fit!

Whether you already have an idea or you are starting from scratch, finding product/market fit is something you can start doing today! Follow our articles and view the other resources on our website as you begin your entrepreneurial journey. The more you can accomplish at the beginning, the better your product will succeed on the market!

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