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Testing, Testing: Assessing Your Product Early and Often

Finding the sweet spot for success is not a predictable process but there are actions entrepreneurs can take to help boost the probability of being the next big thing, rather than the next big flop. One of the simplest steps is product testing.

Is it durable enough? Is it easy to use? Is it well designed? Do people like how it looks? What are people willing to pay for the product? All of these questions can begin to be answered in a physical product’s early testing phase. Think of this as an informal user-research phase that occurs either instead of or before you invest in formal user research — a strategy that can start out costing tens of thousands of dollars.

For those without the budget for formal research, here are a few things to keep in mind as you embark on a leaner model for early testing:

Get your prototype out there early.

Waiting until a product is “perfect” to rigorously test a prototype is a common mistake. It’s uncomfortable to dive headfirst into being judged but this’ll save you from criticism later on (when it’s much more costly to make changes). Put the product in people’s hands. Observe the unexpected things people will do with the product. Does it recover gracefully or fail? Does it have uses you didn’t originally foresee? …

(Read the rest of JD’s article at Entrepreneur.com.)