Michele Romanow is the co-founder of Buytopia and SnapSaves. The new Dragon on Dragons’ Den argues the secret to innovating is not investing too heavily in any one idea.
1. Create projects, not businesses
It’s a gentler fall to say “the project didn’t work” rather than “the business failed.” Some projects need to be abandoned right away, but some take a bunch of iterations to get right. I was playing with the idea of doing sample boxes and calling tons of vendors to see if we could distribute a sample box for them, when we realized that what was really needed was a better mobile couponing vendor. So that’s how we created SnapSaves. Trying little projects and seeing what happens is really important.
2. Build a low-cost trial
Can you build a landing page to test if people are excited by a new idea? Can you get out a really basic software product without investing too much? The nice part about technology is that ideas can be tried very quickly.
3. Call your competitors
When entrepreneurs are testing new ideas, they can become obsessed with their market research. But you really just need to get the basics. Talk to people who have worked in that space and find out what works. People are always scared to talk to their competitors, but asking people, “Is this sector growing? What are you struggling with?” gives you a ton of data. If there’s no one doing a particular business, it’s probably not because nobody has tried it. It’s probably because no one has succeeded in it.