Startups Explained

Lean validation: how to quickly validate a problem

This step-by-step guide is designed to steer early-stage founders through the validation process.
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Validating your startup idea is a critical step in the entrepreneurial journey. It’s about ensuring that the problem you aim to solve is not just real but also deeply felt by your target audience. This step-by-step guide is designed to steer early-stage founders through the validation process, ensuring that your venture is set on a path of addressing genuine needs effectively.

Step 1: Identify your critical hypothesis

Start by articulating the core assumption behind your business idea. What must be true for your solution to be necessary? Focus on a hypothesis that is critical for your business’s success and relatively straightforward to validate.
If you need more help with this step you can go ahead and read our article on the topic or you can use our Miro board template. Or why not both?

Step 2: Choose your validation experiment

Opt for a validation method that is both lean on resources and swift. Here are some proven approaches:

  • Validation surveys: Directly query your potential users with specific questions about their needs and pain points.
  • Concierge tests: Manually provide your service to get firsthand insights into its value.
  • Landing pages: Test market interest through a webpage detailing your solution’s promise.
  • Explainer videos: Utilize short, engaging videos to outline the problem and your solution’s benefits.
  • Feature stubs: Deploy a rudimentary version of your product to observe actual user interaction and feedback.

Step 3: Define your metrics

Decide on the key metrics you will measure to evaluate the experiment's success. These could include engagement rates, number of sign-ups, or direct feedback scores, tailored to the nature of your experiment and product.

Step 4: Set success criteria

Establish clear, measurable criteria for what success looks like for your experiment. This could be a specific number of users signing up, a minimum engagement time, or a positive feedback percentage. These benchmarks will guide your evaluation of the experiment's outcomes.

Step 5: Execute and document

Carry out the chosen experiment methodically and document all outcomes. This should include:

  • Quantitative data: Measure your experiment against the predefined success criteria.
  • User feedback: Collect and analyze qualitative feedback for patterns and insights.
  • Observations: Note any unexpected results or happenings; these can be invaluable for future strategy adjustments.

Step 6: Analyze and define next steps

Thoroughly analyze the collected data to ascertain whether your hypothesis was validated. Based on this analysis, determine your immediate next steps, which might involve pivoting, further validation, or progressing with product development.

Step 7: Rinse and repeat

Validation is a cyclical process. Use the insights gained from each experiment to refine your understanding and approach, continually iterating on both your product and your validation strategies.

Identifying a "burning" problem

A critical aspect of validation is determining whether the problem you're solving is a "burning" issue for your target market—a problem so acute that they're actively seeking solutions.

Indicators of a burning problem:

  • Unsolicited problem explanation: If potential users spontaneously articulate the problem or express frustration without prompt, it's a strong indicator of its significance.
  • Multiple tools, yet unsatisfied: Discovering that your target audience has tried several tools or services but remains dissatisfied points to a gap that your solution could fill.
  • Willingness to pay: If individuals or businesses have already spent money attempting to solve the problem, it demonstrates both the problem's urgency and their readiness to invest in a viable solution.

Leveraging indicators for validation

When these indicators emerge during your validation process, it's a clear signal to delve deeper. Adjust your validation experiments to further explore these pain points. For instance, if surveys reveal that users have tried multiple solutions without success, follow up with interviews to understand the shortcomings of existing solutions. This insight can be instrumental in refining your product better to meet the unaddressed needs of your target market.g

Validation is the linchpin of successful startups. It’s about proving that your solution meets a critical need, thereby laying the groundwork for a product that your target audience will embrace. By following this guide, you're not just saving resources—you're also strategically positioning your startup for success by aligning closely with your customers’ most pressing problems. Remember, the goal is not just to validate your idea but to pivot and iterate based on what you learn, ensuring that your final product is as compelling and necessary as possible to your target market.

We recognise that navigating all of the processes, including validation, can be a challenging journey full of experiments and conjecture. We've created a suite of Miro templates, especially for early-stage founders in order to expedite this crucial process. These templates act as your compass, leading you with ease and structure through every stage of validation. Our resources are made to show you the way towards creating a product that really connects with your audience, from focusing on your main hypothesis to analysing user feedback. Use our Miro template and see for yourself.


What is the purpose of the validation phase for startups?

A: The validation phase is crucial for ensuring that your startup idea addresses a genuine and significant problem for your target audience, helping you to align your solution with real market needs.

How to begin the validation process for your startup idea?

A: Start by identifying your core hypothesis - the fundamental assumption that underpins the necessity of your solution. Focus on a hypothesis that is critical for your success and relatively easy to validate.

What are some effective methods for validating your startup idea?

A: Several lean and efficient validation methods include validation surveys, concierge tests, landing pages, explainer videos, and feature stubs. Each has its advantages and can be chosen based on your specific needs and resources.

How to define success criteria for your validation experiment?

A: Establish clear, measurable benchmarks for success, such as a certain number of user sign-ups, minimum engagement time, or a positive feedback percentage. These criteria will help you evaluate the outcomes of your experiment.

What should you do if your initial validation experiment doesn't meet the success criteria?

A: Validation is iterative. Use the insights gained to refine your hypothesis, adjust your product or approach, and repeat the validation process. This cyclical process helps you to continuously improve and align your product with market needs.

How can you tell if the problem you’re solving is a "burning" issue for your target market?

A: Look for indicators such as unsolicited problem articulation by potential users, evidence that they have tried multiple solutions without satisfaction, and willingness to pay for a solution.

Where can you find resources to help guide you through the validation process?

A: For early-stage founders looking to streamline the validation process, our Miro and Notion templates provide a structured approach to validating your startup idea. Check them out and see how they can facilitate your validation efforts.

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