Do a research and figure out or hustle??
Whenever I want to start something new or I am thinking about a new product feature (which is quite often) my mind takes 2 sides- one says do research, surveys, collect data the other one just says do it, just launch it and then see if people would love what you want to make.
Well both sides have it’s pros and cons. Doing a deep dive for the product you want to make or a feature you want to add helps you understand what is happening in the market, who are your competitors, what they are doing, what people think about your solution, how will they react and all. This information is pure gold. Will help you understand a lot about your product and maybe even do some change a lot from the initial hypothesis. Or maybe you even dump your idea based on the research- people might just not like it or use it. Further more there is no one who will pay for it. All this information based on the research.
I could somehow never believe it. In this approach you collect data through surveys or questions etc with out showing people something. People always react differently when they have a product in hand vs answering a survey. In survey or general question everything feels okay, oh we will give it a shot and all that but in actual no one is able to win over their inertia of trying something new even if they promised you in the survey. The whole product analytics industry is based on the hypothesis to capture what people “really do” rather than what they say they do.
Moreover a research based approach to validate your idea does not give you, as a founder, an exposure that you get when you take a MVP to your target audience. In reality your potential customers give you more input and better suggestions which can eventually lead to better or different product. Human behaviour is very varied. Many people would say no to try a product in survey but end up using it under peer pressure. And this is a huge chunk, lot of things happen under peer pressure and other social factors. These factors come into the picture only when you have a real product in hand rather than a set of questions. When you show people things their mind changes it responds in a very different way. It’s like we say just Show Up! And yes research and surveys are in general boring both for the doer and the person being surveyed. They also end the element of surprise which is quintessential.
Another harmful effect of surveys and long research is the whole enthusiasm of people die by the end of the survey and after seeing the results. And these results might also be not right. Moreover you don’t learn what people would really need- which could be a simple tweak of your initial idea.
In terms of time and cost I believe both are approximately same. For example- Say you want to test a new idea about a product:
Doing a survey and reading and researching. Creating a survey is free. You send it across your friends and family asking them questions etc. Secondly you spend time reading loads reports, other survey etc. Guess you will spend a week doing it.
Execute: Your product will have a core function. You build a simple webpage around that core function and share it. And wait for result.
What we did:
Our idea was that we wanted to create a marketplace for pre-owned items (fashion). We also did a small survey. We had to remind our friends to fill it until they actually did. And we did read up. Now one thing which we also did was create a simple responsive webpage through which we can actually test our hypothesis that “people are open to selling their used fashion items”.
People can open the webpage and upload the product they want to sell. We shared it with our friends and the friends of friends and so on. What we got in like 2–3 days is 50 products already listed with no marketing. That was a real test of our idea.
So is there a point in doing any survey or research?
Well I would say yes but it should be highly monitored and should be very short. Your research should help you understand the overall markets, who your competitors are and where the the industry is going. Beyond that I would suggest spend more time in creating a meaningful low cost MVP and then taking it out to your target audience, do changes as you gather feedback and keep on improving. This also increases users interest level as they have something to see, something they can play around. Also your potential users start feeling engaged and valuable. And while doing all this you gather actual feedback that will help you understand what you need to build. This is in fact pure gold!!
Would be happy to get more feedback on this approach. Please add your experience in the comment section.