Last week a Homejoy housecleaner was at my apartment cleaning when he mentioned that he had an idea for an app. He started to pitch me on an on-demand car cleaning app when I said, “Cherry tried that!” He had a different approach though (of course). As he started to describe how the app worked, I suggested that perhaps he not even use an app. A simple web page, test a couple ads, and see if he could get customers. He didn’t sound as thrilled about that idea.

I wish my advice came from a position where I had successfully implemented this process in the past. Unfortunately I’ve gone the exact opposite way on multiple occasions and all too often it wasn’t until the last minute that I realized, “Jeez, I really should talk to customers!” A business is not just about building an application that you think people need, it’s about really satisfying a need.

For the few that have venture capital, they have the luxury of taking a while to test out their theories. Most people don’t have that luxury though and the key is finding out what the customer will pay for, how much they’ll pay, and how often they’ll come back. So next time you’re out there considering building an application, something you probably haven’t done in the past, consider finding a faster route to getting customers to give you money. I’ll let you know next time I take my own advice ;)