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What would you think about your own idea?

This is a simple but powerful exercise when you are validating your idea. You could almost think of it as a mental prototype to gain a new perspective of your idea. What would you yourself think about your idea if someone else was pitching it to you?

I know this is easier said than done. One of the biggest problems of being the one who dreamed up the idea is you are also the most familiar with it. You have all the details, the ins, and outs. You’re inside the idea, and sometimes you are the idea (this can be dangerous).

First, this is not a perfect exercise. You aren’t going to reach a perfect conclusion. This is merely to push you into thinking about your idea from another angle.

Pretend it is the first time you’ve heard of the idea.

The process goes something like this. Imagine I am telling you about your idea and it is the first time you have ever heard of it. While you’re thinking through this situation, think of the merits of the idea.

Remember, you’re the customer. Without making overly general assumptions, how would you answer the following questions?

  • What is the first question that comes to mind?
  • What steps do you take to come to a conclusion about the idea?
  • Does it solve a problem for you? Or bring help you with something?
  • If it costs money to use, would you still use it?

Don’t forget to take notes. You’ll want to revisit these thoughts in the future as you develop your idea into a product or service.

The skill of stepping outside your idea takes practice. But if you can learn to do it, you will learn how to separate yourself from your work. An important skill any entrepreneur should learn. This approach brings focus and clarity that can affect your choices in the future.

What characteristics of your idea stand out the most?

While you imagined your idea from the opposite side of the story, what stood out the most to you? Are there certain characteristics of your idea that bring a better understanding or make a noticeable difference?

The Pareto principle will show up here where 20% of the idea will support 80% of the mindshare/features. This 20% is what you are keeping an open mind for. It is what you want to capture in your notes.

You’ll want to note these and use them later when explaining the product or service you create from your idea. These will serve as the major points to think about more deeply and develop into the benefits your potential customers might enjoy.

You might want to put yourself in the shoes of your target market as well.

Have someone else do this too.

If you want to take it one step further, have someone else run this process step-by-step too. Do you have a team? A partner? Anyone else you trust that could do the semi-opposite of this exercise?

Ask them to imagine the idea was theirs. Go so far as to go through how they would implement or bring the idea into the real world to help (or entertain) others.

The same questions as before apply, but the main takeaway you’re looking for is what characteristics of the idea stand out the most. Or what is the 20%?

Doing this will take patience.

This process is not easy to do. If it were, everyone would do it. You will need to develop the ability to step outside of your world for a moment to analyze your ideas, products, and services from a semi-outside perspective.

It is easier when you think, “what if someone else pitched the same idea or product to me?” As you get better at doing this, you’ll gain some great insights into your business. I like to call these “intermediate insights.”

They are not a true outsider’s view, nor are they purely your original view either. Bridging this gap will help you validate your idea quickly.

But you have to be very honest with yourself.

The only rule is when doing this is you are actually honest with yourself. If you can’t do that, you will essentially be giving yourself the same sugarcoated feedback you can find in almost any forum or social media channel.

Your honest opinion will highlight some expectations and examples where you can direct more effort.

Don’t be afraid to call it done.

I know this is your business. It’s your business plan; you’re the owner. But here’s where things get interesting. What if you find that you would not use your own idea? Or you wouldn’t pay for it? What if you discover it isn’t really a business idea? That you could NOT build your business on it, or it wouldn’t add the value you hoped it would.

Are you ready to quit the idea, learn from it, and move on?

While you do have sunk costs, chalk them up as a fantastic learning experience and apply what you learned to your next idea.

Don’t be afraid to succeed from it either.

There’s a good chance you’ll learn something about your idea when you imagine it from another’s perspective. Use it. Apply the info to your idea, product, or service.

It is instrumental when you’re right at the point of making a decision. Along with your target customer, use the information you learned here to make better choices.

It really is that simple. Imagine you’re a stranger to your idea, note your thoughts, and then actually use them when you need them.

Good luck!