This step is vital for most businesses, but if you have an original idea or product then you also need to be careful. You don’t want to give your amazing business concept away so make sure you can trust the people you are talking to, or that you are not giving enough details away that someone else could beat you to market.
You may need to consider your Intellectual Property position. If so, we recommend visiting the Intellectual Property Office as a first step, and then possibly talking to an Intellectual Property lawyer such as local IP expert, Infinity IP
But that warning aside, ask as many relevant people as you can:
- Your target market; this is the best group to ask.
- Professionals; anyone who you feel would have a valid opinion such as a bank or a business coach.
- Other business owners; you’d be surprised how helpful other businesses can be if you are not directly competing with them.
Try to avoid asking friends and family. This is the worst group to ask as they are more likely to give you positive feedback when what you actually need is honesty.
As much as possible, get face to face with people. This gives you the opportunity to ask questions and gain a good understanding of what does and doesn’t work for each person. Surveys are OK, but not as valuable as conversations.
Remember, you are not asking questions in order to sell your product or to justify your ideas, you are asking questions to get an honest opinion on the viability of your idea. So don’t try and change their minds if they are negative. Encourage people to challenge your assumptions so that you are forced to think about what might not work.
Try and ask the question “What?” and “Why?” as much as possible.
- What is the problem that my product or service would solve?
- Why is this a problem for you?
- Why do you think my product or service would be better than another to solve it?
- What would stop you from purchasing a product like this? Why?
- What would you be willing to pay for this?
Going through this process should give you an idea about whether there is going to be an appetite for what you have to sell. This gives a starting point to setting the goals for your business, and for putting together a solid plan.