Experimentation is the beating heart of the lean enterprise, so it makes sense to give close attention to the methods involved. The exploration, pitch, concierge, and prototype methods are as much art as science. Mastering them requires lots of practice and careful attention to technique.
But first, you need access to customers. How can you get it? The answer depends on the kind of product or service you're testing.
For a consumer product, we tell attendees to our Lean Startup Machine workshops to go talk to people browsing at a shopping mall. For an item aimed at enthusiasts of one kind or another, they'll find a place where like-minded people congregate, either online or in the flesh. For a business service, you would cold-call workers who have purchasing authority.
The truth is, most people are petrified by the prospect of interrupting strangers with a request for help. It can be awkward, but trust us that it gets easier with practice. Keep in mind the urgency of learning whether your idea has legs as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Your startup is on the line, and getting input from living, breathing people is the only way to validate it.
Take a good long look at your customer personas, the generalized profiles that describe unique customer attributes and behaviors. The next task is to find people like that and recruit them to help validate their ideas.
The simplest way to find customers is to work your personal ...