The question above seems very easy with a straightforward answer in affirmative. But in reality, the answer is not that simple and comes with a lot of complications, especially when it comes to predicting the future of extremely innovative business ideas that are way ahead of their time.
Now some people might say that being ahead of time is also a reason for business failure and is accountable for the failure of so many innovative ideas in the past. But here comes the part of grit, visionary thinking, and availability of resources.
So shall we stop working on the ideas which are ahead of their time because they are not getting validated in the market?
Things get more confusing when we read Henry Ford’s famous quote, though we have no evidence that this statement was said by Henry Ford but this quote is synonymous with his name. He quoted,
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.
Though we don’t have any evidence but when we observe Henry Ford’s life, we can relate things in a similar manner, his stubbornness towards making a moving assembly line and better car engines. Due to this, the Ford Company become successful in increasing its sales to 933,720 cars in 1920 from 10,000 in 1910.
Later, Ford Industry also tasted failure when Henry Ford continued his stubbornness and didn’t consider the reality. Perhaps, later people wanted better cars not faster horses and Henry continued with the thought that people still wanted faster horses.
The onset of Bisleri water bottles in India depicts the same story on Idea Validation. During the time of launch of Bisleri in India, the company was flooded with comments from people saying that who will buy water bottles in a country where there are rivers of milk. If at that time, idea validation was considered strongly by Felice Bisleri or Jayantilal Chauhan, then there would be no Bisleri out in the market today.
If we talk about the current market, then Quora is one of the biggest example. Founders of Quora, Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever never validated their business idea before starting it, they simply believed that they will be successful.
On the contrary, according to CB Insight’s report, 42% businesses fail just because there is no market need for that particular product and this reason tops the list of all the 20 reasons of startup failure.
So, according to my experience of studying various businesses, the importance of idea validation for any business depends on the following factors.
- Uniqueness of Idea
- Grit of founder(s)
- Availability of resources
- Visionary thinking
- Value Addition
Let’s see how these factors are responsible and to what extent:
1. Uniqueness of Idea
If an extremely innovative idea is going to be implemented for the very first time then there are great chances that idea validation won’t help. It will be something like “people want faster horses”.
But if you are modifying any old idea or doing anything which is already done by someone, then you should always look at idea validation. You should consider a detailed study on what happened to previously same businesses, why they succeeded or failed, how they are generating revenue, what is the current scope in the market, is there any scarcity of the product or you will just increase the inventory etc.
2. Grit of Founders
Grit is directly associated with the “Strong Why” that why you have to achieve a particular thing, what is your intention behind achieving a particular aim. I believe grit is the most important personality trait of any successful entrepreneur, whether you talk about Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Jack Ma, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or Sergey Brin, all of them possess extraordinary grit in them.
There was a time when no one was supporting Google, they knocked everyone’s door to buy their company or to fund them but no one supported them at the time. But they were very confident because they were the only one who were working for users not for the advertisers. So they didn’t shut down their company in spite of extreme difficulties. It was their endless grit that they outperformed every search engine in the market and are currently the global leaders with more than 86% of the global share in search queries.
3. Availability of Resources
If your business idea is ahead of its time, then two things will play the biggest role. One is indomitable grit and the second is the availability of resources that can keep you alive till the right time comes, or you can say till the time people start buying your product. Resources can be money (in the majority of cases), employees, working place etc. But there is almost zero probability for your business survival if your idea is 10-20 years ahead. You can only withstand for 4-5 years if you only rely on the resources.
4. Visionary Thinking
Sometimes it gets impossible to believe extraordinary thinking and if we can’t even believe that, then how idea validation can be done? During the 1800s, it was almost impossible for people to believe about airplanes but Wright Brothers did it. During the 1980s, it was impossible to believe that we can buy anything online but Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma made everyone believe it.
Right now, Elon Musk is commentating that he will make colonies on Mars and the majority of us could not even digest it the first time we heard of a thing like this. I don’t know whether he will succeed or not but yes he surely has put the first pillar in this race and it is quite likely that someday, someone will make it happen.
So if you are one of those visionary people who can predict the future and can think outside the box, then you need not worry about what people who live within the box think about you or your idea.
5. Value Addition
Value addition is the most important thing when it comes to the success of any startup. Whether you look at Amazon, Facebook, SpaceX, Airplane or any other successful company you will observe one common thing in all those products. They were very keen in reducing human efforts; they were all creating values in people’s life instead.
In simple words, humans are born lazy and if you can make something that supports human laziness, then there is a great probability that your business idea is going to rock the market (Health startups like gyms are the exceptions).