Stage 2: Create & Validate

You have an idea of a product or service you want to offer, but you’re still trying to identify the audience. You’re finding clarity on who you want to serve, the problem you solve, the product-market fit, and the price you want to charge.

You’ve accumulated a bunch of online courses, tools and resources but you may feel like you’re still lacking clarity and direction because of all the noise and all the different ways you can make a living.

You may even feel like you’ve become addicted to information and learning, finding yourself starting and trying lots of things.

You’re starting to generate some revenue and seeing some results while you’re testing your ideas and offerings on the market.

You realise that once you’ve actually launched your business, you have less money, less time and more stress than you thought.

If you’re struggling to turn your ideas and offerings into something the market can get excited about, self doubt and uncertainty would have crept in from the lack of money flowing in.

If you’ve been consuming too much information at this stage, you may experience reduced motivation due to feelings of overwhelm and not knowing where to start.

Instead of taking inspired action, information overload can have the opposite effect.

Unfortunately, the majority of people don’t get out of this stage and continue to spin in the cycle of research and comparing themselves to others who are more established.

Common Questions At This Stage

  • Who do I want to serve? Is this the right audience?
  • What problems can I solve for people?
  • What are people willing to pay me to do?
  • What offers can I create?
  • Where can I find the right people to target?
  • Who else is serving this same audience?

If any of this sounds like where you’re at, then pay attention to what you need to focus on below in order to advance your business to the next stage.

This stage tends to be riddled with the greatest fears of failure and self doubt, because there are often more questions than answers at this stage of the business.

This is the stage when people begin to walk away from entrepreneurship.

Some are now beginning to face the harsh realities of business:

Becoming self-employed is easy, staying self-employed is hard.

If you’ve done the work in Stage 1, then you wouldn’t be throwing in the towel so quickly.

When you’re committed to your why, your passion, your mission, and feel connected to the vision of the life you want to live, the internal drive you have will help you power through the hard and uncertain times that all business owners will inevitably face.

This is why laying a strong foundation for yourself is so important.

This stage is all about understanding the market you want to serve and validating your offer.

Blindly stepping into the market without knowing the real needs, desires, frustrations, and feedback of the market is a recipe for wasted time, money and energy.

This is the secret to your (never ending) success in business:

Know your customers, clients and audience better than they know themselves.

Everything else in your business becomes a lot easier if you have a deep understanding of who you serve.

The more you know about your audience, the better.

The clearer you are on who your audience is, the more effective your messaging will be and the easier you’ll be able to create offerings to serve their needs.

The key system to implement in this stage is your validation system.

Entrepreneurs who are not specific in who they serve, trying to appeal to everybody and don’t have a proper validation system in place will have a much lower chance of success in business.

The key skills you need to level up in Stage 2:

  • Market Research
  • Interviewing
  • Listening
  • Personal Knowledge Management (Organising Information)

This is where the real work of marketing begins — the fundamental elements of marketing that most people either don’t know about or skip over because this work is not sexy.

If you don’t get the fundamental elements of marketing right, all your marketing efforts will feel very heavy. It will feel like you’re pushing a boulder up the hill all the time, no matter what you do from a marketing perspective.

Because nothing you do is going to really land with anyone, and nothing you say will cut through the clutter. As a result, you will never get the kind of traction that you’re looking for.

Pitfalls To Avoid ⛔️

Over-consuming information — too much learning, not enough doing

If you’re introverted and scared to talk to people like I was, you’re going to have to learn to push yourself out of your comfort zone and talk to real people.

It’s not enough to try to validate an idea from behind your computer screen. Nothing compares to talking to real people on the phone or in person — especially those who need what you offer. The insights you get from those conversations are invaluable.

Not structuring your day

It’s easy to lose your day to incoming distractions. Don’t become “rudderless” drifting through life, hoping that you’ll reach some destination.

Structure your day and week according to your energy levels and the circadian rhythm of your body.

This is one of the pitfalls you’ll find yourself in if you’ve neglected to do the work in Stage 1 to develop your Personal Management and Productivity skills.

Some things you might hear yourself say:

  • Can I really do this?
  • How are others able to get traction so quickly?
  • What am I doing wrong?
  • This is more work and more stressful than I thought it would be…

Habits To Develop 🕰

Be a mad scientist and be curious

Channel your inner mad scientist and get experimental! Adopt a mindset of testing, pivoting and iterating if something doesn’t work.

“Oooohh, I wonder what will happen if I do this?”

Curiosity is an essential trait of a great entrepreneur. Be curious, active and hands-on about testing and validating your idea, product or service.

You don’t have to know everything to start, because you’ll figure out the rest along the way.

Take consistent action

Don’t let feelings of uncertainty and self doubt hold you back. Every “no” you get is a step towards a “yes”. You must go out into the market to generate awareness and test your offering in order to gain essential feedback from your potential customers.

Action brings clarity. In this stage, you need to get as much feedback as quickly as you can. The less action you take, the more uncertainty and self doubt will creep in.

Track your progress

Develop the habit of tracking your progress, because you can’t improve what you don’t track.

One of the most important things to be tracking in this stage is how many conversations you’re having with potential prospects, and the number of sales conversations.

If you’re not getting the initial revenue and results you want, it’s most likely that you’re not getting yourself out in the market, talking to people.

Primary Focus in Stage 2: Create & Validate 🔍

Establish your validation system.

Develop the skills you need to improve your ability to validate your offer:

  • Market Research
  • Interviewing
  • Listening
  • Personal Knowledge Management (Information Organisation)

If you don’t create your initial offer at this stage, then it will be difficult to validate the viability of your business. You will get stuck in this stage if your offer doesn’t solve the right problem for the right audience.

It may take you a few (or many) iterations to create something the market wants.

Remember that each stage is built on top of the other. If your systems aren’t clearly established and properly implemented, everything after it will eventually falter.