Validate your idea with beta users

You just had a breakthrough idea for your next side hustle. A million to-do’s start running through your head on how you can get the idea launched successfully. For many, this begins an overwhelming process of devoting a lot of time and resources (money) into something that may fail.

The last four words of the previous sentence are very important to process: “something that may fail”. This idea has been validated by no one but you at this point. Since it is our own idea, it is difficult to look at it critically and not fall victim to confirmation bias.

You need someone that is not attached to the idea to look at it from a different angle and give you honest feedback. You really need honest feedback so that means your mom is out. I think the best people and the ones most likely to give you critical feedback are people on the internet.

Obviously, the internet is a huge place and you could start anywhere but I think it is very important to pick a targeted audience. Your beta testers should be potential customers or consumers of your product, content, or service. A beta user that is a potential customer is a gold mine. They know what they want and you want to provide what they want. 

To find these beta users, you should find their “watering holes”. Where do these people hang out? First, if you are an active member of the space you are trying to enter with this idea, go to the places you hang out. If you hangout there, I’m sure others will as well. The hangout part is key though, it can’t just be a random website that you like to visit, it needs to be an interactive platform. Below are some of the channels you may want to consider depending on your niche.

Reddit: This is where I found my beta users for The Side Hustle Journal. If you are unfamiliar with Reddit, just think of it as a forum for people to come together. The people that like specific topics come together in what is called subReddits. Since my project touched on entrepreneurship, journals, and productivity, I posted in all of those subReddits to find potential beta users.

Here was one of my Reddit post:

Hey guys - I am looking for 20 participants to participate in a beta group for a productivity journal I am releasing in November. I have had many people that I know and don't know review it so it is well refined (to me) but I am looking for one last review group before I send to the printer in 4 weeks.

About the journal: it is meant for a specific group of people, those of us working full-time jobs and trying to build a side hustle in the night. It aims to add structure to all areas of your life and excel your side hustle project while making you perform better at work also. There is a concept used in the journal to take you from the development of your idea to get an MVP version of the project launched.

I'd be grateful to get 20 people in this beta group and get some feedback from my true target market.

Shoot me a PM if you want to join. Thanks in advance for the help guys. First come first serve.

I didn’t spend any amount of time thinking about what to post, I just spoke to them like I was speaking to a friend. You do not want to sound like a salesman, especially on Reddit.

Facebook groups: You should be a part of Facebook groups of the niche you are looking to enter or are already in. Many of these groups are VERY active and you can get almost instant volunteers for beta users of whatever it may be. I would take a very similar approach to my Reddit post. If you are unsure if the group allows a post like this, just send one of the admins a message and ask.

Local Organizations: For me, I attended events focused on the startup community, which in Atlanta, are mainly tech based. There was still a lot of interest and also people that knew people. Your ability to leverage this channel will be highly dependant on where you live but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. For example, you could simply set up in a high traffic area, such as the town square, and ask people that walk by to give you real-time feedback on whatever it is. This is exceptionally easy if you have a physical product, even if it is a prototype.

Finding the people isn’t necessarily the hard part though, getting them to follow-up is. So, if you think that you need feedback from 10 people, you should find 50 potential beta users. The reality is, people get busy and forget, like your idea but not enough to reply, hate your idea and don’t want to be mean, or maybe a combination of these all. You will get those handfuls of people that provide brilliant feedback on your idea.

You should consider all the ideas whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent. One caveat though, don't let one person's opinion play into any major decisions. If you get overwhelming bad feedback, maybe the idea should be scrapped. If you get bad feedback on one aspect, maybe you should tweak it and repeat the process. If you get great feedback, ask them if they will pre-order it. :) More on that later….

I received pretty good feedback and went ahead with launching The Side Hustle Journal on Kickstarter.

Go find some beta testers for your idea.

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