He is the host of the podcast Strap on Your Boots and author of the book by the same title.
Welcome to the show, Jason.
Thanks for having me, Ty and from what I understand, I’m the first guest you’ve had on your show. So, I’m really excited about this.
Me too. I’m very excited to have you here today. And yes, you are my very first guest. I’m excited that I have a guest!
So (Jason), I understand that you have a passion for helping startups.
Yeah. And this goes back years from my own venturing into the world of startups and trying to navigate and figure out what worked and what didn’t. So, I put together strategies and tactics and methodologies mentioned in my book, Strap on Your Boots. I realized that those same things I was doing from my own startups, I can now do for other startups and help them avoid making mistakes that I made, and basically fast track to success and validate their concept much quicker.
So yeah, I’ve helped many startups, entrepreneurs, business owners and industries. It doesn’t really matter what industry; it correlates to any of them.
What would you say is one of the most important things that person should do when starting a business?
before they actually start the business, they should be making sure that what it is they’re going to do, whether it’s a: Brick and mortar business, a technology platform, hardware, or software or both, or it’s a physical product that they’re going to sell in the market; they should be validating that people actually want or need that service or product or platform before building it.
And that means finding out:
1: Do people want this thing that you’re trying to build?
2: After you figure out that they want this thing, what part of it do they want? Which features or facets of it do they actually like? Find out the details of what the market actually wants out of this product and then:
3: Build as little as possible. So, it’s called a minimum viable product or M. V. P. Build as little as possible, just to get that feedback early on before you go gung-ho and build the whole kit and caboodle.
Just build a little piece and see what people think about it. And then Iterate and keep building on top of that.
That makes him great sense. So, kind of validating your business concept then?
Right. Because, if you’re not validating it, you’re just guessing what you think is the correct move and what you think is the best idea. However, it might not resonate with the market. You might find that you know; for example, let’s say you’re building a website or mobile app that you want to put out in the market, and you start designing it.
You pick colors, style, and whatnot. Then, you hire a programmer to build it for you or maybe you’re a programmer and you start building it. You spent countless days, months, even possibly years building this platform and then you spend all this money on press releases, social media ads, videos, etc.
Then you push it out there only to find out that nobody likes your idea; nobody wants your app, nobody’s downloading it and it’s because you skipped this step.
So, validating your business concept sounds like it’s particularly important. What would you say is the best way to go about doing that?
One of the best things you can do when starting a business is to find a core group of what you call beta users or data testers. This can be a combination of friends and family and also strangers, because you don’t want to rely on friends and family only, of course.
They’re the best people to go to at first just to find out if your idea viable. If they are truthful, they’ll tell you, “here’s what I think of your idea,” but you really want to find college students or peers in your industry. So if you’re a lawyer, go to other people in the legal field. Or, if you’re an accountant, look for people in accounting. Look for people that work in your industry and then ask them what they think of your idea. A survey is the first step.
You want to go to something like Typeform and create a form (Typeform has a free option). Ask people if they like your idea from there.
You can design a couple of mockups for people to look at also. There’s so many free websites where you can do this like Canva. Make some mockups to show people what your product looks like.
Ask what they think in the survey, get their feedback. Do they like the colors, do they like the look? And realistically,
I really like that idea; it sounds like a great way of validating a business concept. Do you think this can also be done with products or services from existing businesses?
Absolutely. Sometimes, business sales kind of plateau, right? The business becomes successful, and they realize: “Oh, you know, I’m making a good income and things are kind of good, but they’re also kind of stagnated.”
Their sales are just a straight line. So, they might want to branch out either with a vertical business or they might want to scale their business by hiring new people or add on a new product or new service.
So, do the same thing: Reach out to your existing customer base. People who are business owners have the luxury of already having a built-in data testing pool. Reach out to your customers and ask them what they would think of a new product or service idea. Or if I start offering this product on my website, would they purchase it?
There’s so many things you can do to preemptively find out if people want a new product or service before you start offering it. It’s just a matter of doing a little bit of work.
That’s great to hear. Can this be applied when buying an existing business versus building a business from scratch?
You know, there may be different ways of going about it. That’s a good question. That is going to be particular for each business, right? Because every single business has a different story and if you’re going to buy an existing business, I’m guessing you’re doing it because the owner wants to retire. Or maybe it’s a startup that is now worth a billion dollars and the founders don’t want it anymore because they’ve made a lot of money and they want to sell to Facebook or whoever.
So that’s a tough one because there really can be a lot of different situations.
You’ll want to emphasize what’s not working and figure out how to get rid of it before you buy the business so that you have a plan. You don’t want to go into a business without having a plan.
So, that’s a unique question. I would just say to do your due diligence before buying a business to make sure you have the exact kind of plan of what you’re going to be doing when you buy it.
Well, thank you so much, Jason, for that. Is there anything else that you can think of that would be great for a startup to know about?
Absolutely. What I teach in my book (Strap on Your Boots) and my course, my podcast and my Youtube channel is to build as little as possible before you try to build a company.
The biggest problem with entrepreneurs is that they want to build as much as possible and get it out there because they’re so sure the market will want it.
Get enough people to buy into your product, whether it’s purchasing the product or using your platform and grow it organically, grow it slowly. If you can get to say 10,000 users for your mobile app or if you can sell $1,000 worth of a product, you have a business and now you can build upon that business.
Don’t expect to get a million users overnight; It’s not going to happen, no matter what trick you think you have up your sleeve. Whether it’s using a Tick Tok influencer or finding a celebrity on Instagram, none of that stuff is going to be sustainable.
You might get a quick pump in your downloads for one day, but they’re not going to stick around. You need to find a long-term solution for your user base, or your customers. So, there are no shortcuts and build as little as possible.
Get feedback and then build upon that feedback.
Great advice! Thank you so much for that information, Jason. How can people get a hold of you?
My website is JasonSherman.org and on the website you’ll find a free downloadable startup guide which gives you the nitty gritty tips that I give clients. It is a cheat sheet to my book and my course.
You’ll also find information about my book, my course, my podcast, my Youtube channel and my whole story is on my website, JasonSherman.org.
Thanks again for being on the podcast. Jason. You have a great day. No problem. Thanks for having me. It was an honor to have Jason on the podcast today. Be sure to go to his website, JasonSherman.org and look for startup essentials. He has a free download that can give you guidelines for success for any startup and be sure to look for his podcast. Strap on your boots. Have a great day and I’ll talk to you next week.