You probably expect us to advise you to always validate your product or service before developing it. You would be surprised that we advise against validating your idea in three specific cases.
The goal of validation is to test market demand for your innovation and develop a repeatable go-to-market model, before you spend time and money on developing it. This greatly de-risks your idea and improves your chances of success. There are three specific cases when validating market demand for your innovation has no added value, and we advise against spending time and money on validating.
You know that the best validation is paying customers. And the shortest route to paying customers is, therefore, the best validation. If you’re developing a service where you’re mainly selling expertise or time and the investment required is limited, you are better off selling the service outright. What are you waiting for? Put up that website and acquire new customers! You do not have to validate your idea separately. If however, you run into problems with a repeatable go-to-market model, validating that part of your innovation will benefit you.
The innovation ambition matrix is a great mental model to segment your innovation projects (and map your innovation portfolio). Additionally, it can be used to assess your need for validating your innovation. If you’re using existing products and assets and you serve existing customers in existing markets (a core innovation), there is no need to validate your innovation. The number of unknown variables and uncertainty is low and therefore validating market demand is unnecessary. Optimize all you can and use the increased margins to fuel your adjacent and transformational innovations (those you do need to validate!).
Many businesses, big or small, have side projects. The goal here is to develop additional skills, team building, or contributing to the community. Since you’re not investing time and money with the goal of a sustainable revenue stream, there is no need to validate market demand. You will reach your goals even if you don’t reach new customers.
Many projects in existing businesses fall into one of the above categories and therefore don’t need to be validated. This will likely be the majority of projects. Projects outside the above categories can be de-risked, and their return increases significantly by properly validating market demand.