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Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts by Thomas Eisenmann

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Chapter 18. Using Surveys to Validate Key Startup Decisions

with introduction by David Skok

Introduction

By now pretty much every entrepreneur knows the basics of the Lean Startup methodology. Start by searching for product/market fit. Get out of the building and talk to customers. Run a series of experiments to validate your ideas. Above all else, validate your thinking as early as possible: don’t spend millions of dollars building something before you have tested the ideas and concepts with customers.

Where this tends to fall down in practice is that many entrepreneurs find it hard to reach real customers. Getting feedback from cofounders, friends, small focus groups, user testing sessions, and even existing customers can be very helpful to qualitatively understand how others view your offering. But many times the sample group that you can reach is too small and biased toward people who will be polite to you, or who have self-identified as liking your product.

What if you could ask 1,000 potential customers about your product, new feature, or idea? Would that help you make better decisions, create content or collateral, or gain important insights?

Many survey firms, including SurveyMonkey (discussed here), offer the ability reach a large, specifically targeted audience that they have worked to identify. The following article describes how you might go about designing a survey, and interpreting the results, to gain actionable insights for your startup.

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