Testing the viability of a product or service can be tricky. However, in my experience, I have found that if you explore the answers, provided by two fundamental questions, you can get to a final proof of viability. As well as gain a great foundation for the success of your business, its marketing goals and its customer support.

Question 01: What problem does your product or service solve?

The best products and services in history are supremely successful because they proverbially, scratch a certain itch, felt by enough people, to make a viable market. At times this market is well established, other times it is brand new. Either way, asking yourself if your product or service makes the problem easier to deal with or disappear completely, is a fundamental step.

As you begin to try and answer this question, inevitably, others will arise from it—Have others tried to solve this problem? If they have, what mistakes have they made? Is there enough need for the problem to be solved? I could go on and on.

What you are gaining from the answer to all of these questions is actionable data. This is essential to good decision making as well as good design. With this information you can better adjust the solution to better define and focus your idea and simplify the solution to the problem.

Question 02: Who does your product or service solve the problem for?

As mentioned above, the itch you need to scratch must be felt by enough people to make a viable market. This viable market is relative, not only to the amount of people that need their problem solved but also who those people are who need it solved. Creating a medical related device has a smaller market base than a software solutions provider, but both could equally be multi-million dollar businesses.

When answering this you should not just stop and finding out why these people want or need this problem solved. You should be getting as detailed as you possibly can about who they are and what they want in a solution. I have found the “personas and scenarios” method to be incredibly helpful when exploring the wants and needs of a perceived market segment. This is done by identifying the different personas who would want or need the solution—Are they mostly men, women or gender neutral? What is their age range? What is their occupation? How do they spend their day? Again, I could go on.

Once you have established these personas, you should be able to develop various scenarios where each persona would benefit from the solution you are providing. This exercise provides helpful data in establishing which scenarios are the most common and stand to benefit the most. Again you now have the ability to make a more informed decision about how and where to focus the solution.

Conclusion

In the quest to find the viability of a product or service you would do well to explore the questions above. Data provided by your answers to these and subsequent questions they spawn, cannot only help you decide whether the product or service is viable, but also give you the foundation needed to build your product or service. This information is useful when applied to many facets of your business from marketing and sales strategy to financial planning and business operations.

With the answers to the questions above you will have a more stable foundation on which to build your business idea. Don’t limit your chances for success by not investing the time to fully explore all the paths they lead you down.