Over 50% of all newly launched food businesses fail within their first five years. Most were started with passion and energy. Many produce excellent and exciting products. Sometimes business failure is due to financial mismanagement or lack of funds for expansion. More often, it’s due to failing to address a simple question: What problem does the product solve for the consumer? In this post, we cover how to validate a business idea from the framework of solving real problems for real people.
Your Secret Weapon for Success: Solve Real Problems
The secret to any successful relationship, personal or business, is not to talk about yourself too much. Concentrate on what the other person has to say and needs instead. Whether you’re looking for a partner in life or a purchase order for your food product, your chances of success will increase by listening more than talking.
Take it one step further and offer the solution to a want, need or desire in the other person’s life and you’re on a home run.
How to Validate a Business Idea Using Data to Solve Consumer Problems
One of my businesses is a drinks startup, Boreal Botanical Brewing. Let me share how we used data to validate the purpose of the business and the kind of products the business would be creating in order to ensure we were solving real problems for people. (We did this even before we launched.)
At Boreal Botanical Brewing, we brew botanical tonics from medicinal mushrooms — chaga, reishi and lion’s mane. These drinks contain neither alcohol nor sugar. Our target market is people who choose to live sober or are sober curious. Most have removed alcohol from their diet for general health and wellness reasons.
(Sidenote: If this is a topic you’re interested in, consider reading Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington.)
Use Data to Validate Your Gut Feelings
I myself stopped consuming alcohol about three years ago. I found that even small amounts of alcohol, like two beers over an evening, were robbing me of energy and negatively affecting my sleep. Because I run several companies and have a young family, functioning on adrenaline and coffee just because I had a drink the night before was not a sustainable way to live.
So I decided to take a complete 30-day break from alcohol to see what would happen. The results — better sleep, more energy and patience — were so pronounced that I never looked back and have since chosen to eliminate alcohol completely from my life.
What to drink when not drinking?
But then the question arose: what could I drink, now that I wasn’t drinking alcohol anymore? Specifically, what could I drink in a social situation that was “adult” in taste and not full of sugar?
It was an interesting question and I had a gut feeling that I could not be the only one going through this experience.
Sure enough, when I started digging a little deeper, I found that this was very much a growing trend. Data from a wide range of global studies told me that the number of adults choosing not to consume alcohol is growing sharply. Alcohol-free or reduced-alcohol lifestyles are trending especially with younger consumers in their twenties and early thirties.
That left many people with the same challenge I was facing: what to drink, when not drinking? The issue came up time after time, wherever I looked in this space, and tended to be phrased like this: “I don’t want to feel like the odd one out, now that I don’t drink alcohol anymore. What can I drink that still makes me feel like an adult and included with my drinking friends?”
The data was clear: there was a market for drinks that solved the problem of belonging without drinking. My gut feeling had been correct.