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Starting a Tech Business: A Practical Guide for Anyone Creating or Designing Applications or Software by Alex Cowan

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Reality Testing

Why and How?

Though it's important to reality test your idea, I recommend against doing it too early. If you're thinking about your idea a lot, spend at least a week expanding on it. Make lists or keep a journal. Different things work for different people, but I recommend keeping some kind of written record since most people remember less than they think. If you think about your idea occasionally, wait longer. Reality testing it too soon increases the risk that you may find something that initially appears to be an obstacle but isn't one once you've articulated your idea more.

The first question in your reality test should be this: Is my idea out in the market to a degree that makes a new entry unattractive? However, being the first mover and building a “platform” was more important when the Internet was in its Wild West phase in the late 1990s/early 2000s. People adopted a kind of gold rush mentality then: They had to be the first to offer e-mail online, deliver dog food online, sell books online before someone else claimed the space. In fairness, many successful companies began this way. The Internet was a wide-open prairie, but now it's full of cities, suburbs, freeways, and rest stops. Developing high-tech products these days is a lot like the developing anything else: You don't have to be the only player in your category as long as you're serving a market that justifies the amount of your investment. An important corollary to this is that the required investment ...

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