When everything is unknown, all that’s left is the certainty that everything must be tested.
For a long time, I wanted to believe I knew everything and had this strong “founder intuition” that drove the company in the right direction every time.
And I’ve been humbled over and over again in this entrepreneurial journey by things that surprised the hell out of me.
My ego has been bruised so many times I’ve gotten gunshy about following my intuition and, at times, have gotten conservative as a founder.
But, the one thing that’s allowed me to continue taking risks and trying new things is the answer to almost every question: “How can we test it?”.
Hey, let’s build some AI into Castos. – Let’s test it.
Hey, what about trying freemium. – Let’s test it.
Hey, what about a set of free tools as a lead gen mechanism? – Let’s test it.
Hey, I could probably raise money for this business. – Let’s test it.
To the point where now “Ok great, how can we test it?” is literally the answer to every new idea that our team comes up with.
Whether it’s how we deliver customer support, to new products we want to build, to how our development team operates, to new marketing tactics we want to try.
Nobody just magically knows, and nobody has this crystal ball that has all the answers. The customers and the market do, and our job is to get an idea in front of them as quickly as possible, in as small of a version as possible, so we can start getting actual feedback.
This is where the difficulty comes in, though, because some things are harder to test than others.
But here are a few things I learned recently that might help you in your journey to testing every idea:
- Copy and Positioning: you don’t have to run a live split test on your site, you can use something like Wynter to test messaging and positioning with real people in your target market.
- Product: You don’t need to build any features, but you can survey your customers with a tool like Refiner to see how your customers are currently solving that problem.
- Feature Adoption: Still don’t have to build that feature, just put a button in the UI that is tied to your Amplitude (or whatever product metrics tool you use) and see how often people click it…even though the button doesn’t do anything.
- Pricing: Just raise the prices on new customers on your marketing site. Existing users and even existing trials get the older pricing. If you need to roll it back, it’s just a few clicks in WordPress…all you’re evaluating here is Visitor:Trial ratio.
- Expenses: Instead of wondering about spending more money on something, try spending less on it and see how that affects the outcome. Might not be a 1:1 relationship both ways, but will give you data you don’t have otherwise.
The delicate balance here is having the emotional fortitude to admit to yourself that you don’t know the answer and that almost everything should be tested.
Having a testing-first approach to new things will actually lighten the load on you as a founder because you don’t need to make these weighty decisions anymore, you need to figure out how to empower your team to find the answer in the market.
I’ll never forget Josh Pigford’s line that the hardest thing as a founder is Decision Fatigue. This is one way in which I’ve lightened the Decision Fatigue for me as a founder, and think it could help you too!