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How to investigate and validate new business opportunities like a scientist

Filed Under: Business | Podcast | Strategy
Date Published: June 16, 2020
By: Claire

Not only in the current times but always is a good moment to find new revenue streams. 

This could be scary sometimes, so on today’s episode, Claire will use her scientific background to help you see this process as a scientific experiment and replace the fear for fun!

Listen to find out more about:

  • How is the scientific method and what you need first to start applying it to grow your business
  • How to establish where you need to focus your growth
  • How is the process of testing and experimenting with new features
  • How to conduct your investigation and experiments to be able to measure the results

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When was the last time you experimented in your business? 

In today’s episode, I want us to have a bit of fun with your business. 

The search for new revenue streams is a serious topic. But if you can take a step back and approach it with a scientific mindset, the goal being to learn more about your customers, you can find some unexpected opportunities. 

We’re going to go through a five step process to help you find new business and innovation opportunities, test them and start to implement them in a customer focused but fun way. 

My name is Claire, and over the last nine years I’ve worked in innovation teams across industries, including research, manufacturing, retail and technology. I’ve seen the good, the bad and downright ugly when it comes to innovating on behalf of customers. And now I alongside my esteemed guests, I’m sharing these learnings with you to help you avoid the mistakes and capitalise on the learning so you can grow your business with good systems and innovation. 

This is the innovation and business podcast. Let’s dive on in!

As some of you will know, but potentially not all of you, my background is actually that of a chemist. I studied chemistry at university, and for the first three years of my career, I worked in the global innovation team of a large chemical company. So it will come as no surprise to you that I love science experiments.

 In today’s session, I want to help you take the pressure out of innovation, which I know can be a very big and confusing topic for a lot of people and start to run things a little bit more like a science experiment. One of the best things about science experiments is it doesn’t matter whether you succeed or fail. All that matters is that you learn something new. So I think this is a great framework for us to start thinking about innovation in our businesses. 

First of all, let’s think about setting up a goal, a science experiment will have a goal. So think about what you want to find out and really approach this with a kind of test and learn philosophy. So you do a test, you learn something, you adjust, and then you do another test. But overall, to help guide your testing framework, you want to have a goal. So for example, one of your goals might be to understand your customer more and to think about if you were to launch this new feature on your website, which your customers use it. 

A recent experiment that I did was building out the DRIVE formula that I now coach people on in my business. At the start of the process, I knew that I wanted to help people automate and scale their internal business systems. But what I didn’t know was how best approach that with them. So I set up a variety of different options and ways that I could get people interested in my programme, and then I tested which one got the most interest. This is something I’m actually going to cover on a later episode where I’m going to talk about how I used Facebook and Facebook ads to test out different ideas with my business, and understand which of those is going to be the most impactful for my audience, and where I should focus. 

So now that you have a goal, and you know what you’re trying to find out, it’s time to think about how you’re going to measure success. You will know if you’ve listened to this podcast for a while that I’m a big fan of metrics. And the reason I say that is because what gets measured gets done, even if it’s not perfect you need to know something that you’re trying to change. 

So for example, if you want to increase your conversion rates, you need to use conversion rate as your metric. If you want to save time running processes in your business, you want to use total time of the process as a metric in your business. If you don’t have these kind of data points that you can follow and you can test against, then it’s going to be very difficult for you to learn anything from your experiment. 

To help you understand what metrics and how to measure success, you first want to build out your hypothesis. Depending on what you’re looking at -and I’ll use the example of the DRIVE formula again to help illustrate this- would depend on how you research but to give you the example of my new program, when I was researching what would be good hypotheses to test and good things to offer within this, I looked at what people were searching in Google. I also do this to help me find topics for the podcast out of interest. I asked the people that I was already in touch with them, former clients, what they found most helpful about working with me. What they needed and where they were struggling, so that I can make sure that I was kind of touching on those different points in my program. 

Another thing that you can do if you don’t have an audience is stalk different Facebook groups. I know this sounds a bit creepy. But there are plenty of Facebook groups and online forums out there where you can start to learn more about people’s problems and understand where there are opportunities for you to try out something new in your business that will solve them. Of course, you want to make sure that it’s relevant to the customers that you’re trying to target. And that it’s not a massive step away from what you’re doing and that they can see that link because otherwise you’ll end up confusing people. But thinking about where people are having difficulties and how your solutions might solve them, and testing out whether the solution does indeed solve the problem that you’re trying to solve is a really good way to set up your scientific experiment. 

Once you know what you’re trying to test It should be fairly easy to assign a metric to help you with that. So for DRIVE, and when I was setting up DRIVE, and testing different messaging around that, my goal was to get signups for a free 20 minute coaching call. And so I was looking at which of the different messages I was testing was helping get people into that call. 

Okay, so in the next section, we’re going to start thinking about your minimum viable product.

When you’re thinking about setting up your products, and you’ve done your initial scoping, you know where you want to start and what you want to test, It’s time to think about what is your minimum viable product. What is the simplest version of the product or service that you now want to sell, that you can get set up to start testing. To do this, you can think about, do I just need to set up an ad and drive traffic to a landing page and see if people sign up? Do I need to create a mock up of a product and then get feedback or try Kickstarter? Do I need to think about setting up a free webinar for people before I build out my online course and see if he gets a lot of interest? Whatever you need to do to test your idea out, think about the simplest and quickest way that you can build something that will allow you to test that and that can be your minimum viable product. 

Another thing you can do is look at your competitors products. Where are there gaps that aren’t answering the questions and the problems that you’ve identified? But if you’re doing this, don’t just copy what your competitors are doing. Make sure that you’re putting your own spin on things, and in the words of one of my favourite podcasters, Jenna Kutcher, make sure that you’re adding your secret sauce that things that makes you stand out, so that your customers and your people will find you and know that this is for them, and not just another copy of something they’ve seen before. Once you’ve got your minimum viable product in place, it’s time to start with the experiments. Think about how you want to run your experiments. A lot of the times this is about driving traffic to your product, and seeing what converts and seeing who’s interested. So you can send this out to your email list, you can run ads to drive traffic to your page, which is what I did. You can use social media to run it out, you can post in forums to see how people respond to it. Remember your goal and if it’s an internal thing that you’re testing, you want to work with your team, and see if your team like it and get their feedback. If it’s an external thing and something you want to offer to customers, then you want to see how they’re reacting and, and get traffic and get eyes on it so you can get feedback as quickly as possible. 

The idea is to fail fast. So if it’s not working, you want to know that quickly, and so that you can update change and tweak until you get something that does work. 

Think about this like an experiment. What do you need to find out? And how do you get what you need? So for example, if you need to find out if something is going to convert, how do you get traffic to find out if it’s going to convert? Makes sure that you’ve got it set up so that you can track against your success metrics that you defined previously, and then think about how you can do this in a way that is repeatable so that once you set up your test if it doesn’t work, you can run it again with a slight tweak without having to set up loads of additional stuff. 

Now, this is the final step. Once you’ve run your test, take a look through your metrics. what went well, what went badly? What would you change next time? And it’s time and think about rinsing and repeating.

Each of your experiments should help you get closer towards that magic solution that’s going to grow your business exponentially and help you to innovate. 

Remember, it’s not about getting it right. It’s about failing fast learning from mistakes and updating. Even if you don’t get something super successful first time you, it shouldn’t be a problem because you’ll have learned something about your customers, you’ll have learned something useful, and you’ll know for next time what not to do. If you think about it, like an experiment, like a science experiment, then it takes a lot of the pressure out, it makes it feel more fun. You’re never failing, you’re always learning. 

So this is why I always encourage this approach when you’re thinking about innovation and thinking about trying something new in your business. 

There are opportunities out there, don’t be afraid to test and learn to grow your business. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode on running science experiments in your business to help with innovation. You can tune in next Tuesday for your top of inspiring innovation stories and techniques. Next week, we’ll be discussing why consistent customer experience will help you grow your business and how to deliver it using systems.

Make sure you subscribe to the podcast on your podcast provider so you don’t miss an episode. And if you have time, please leave a review as it helps other people find the podcast and help me get great guests for you. 

Right now I’m offering free 20 minute one on one coaching calls to help you implement seamless client onboarding and management processes in your business. 

If you’re interested in learning more, please click the link in the show notes to apply for one of five weekly slots. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and have a great week. 

Bye bye!