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Anyone who has had the courage to start a business has done so with imperfect information. There are always strangers. We all wonder, “Is it even a good idea? How can I be sure? What can I do to prevent my business from going down? What direction should I take next? “
These are crucial questions – questions that I bet have prevented you from throwing and spinning several times at night. Are they fundamentally unanswered? I do not think so. What successful entrepreneurs do is let the market tell them what it needs. When you need answers, you have to turn.
The path to becoming a successful entrepreneur is strewn with obstacles. The bumps on the road are perfectly normal. You must have faith and be flexible. In many cases, you may need to start over. The good news is that each of your experiences – good and bad – is an opportunity to learn. But you really have to listen to resume the lesson.
Related: 6 Tips for Getting Customer Feedback and Making It Workable
So what do I mean by “let the market tell you what it needs”? That you should never forget to listen to your audience. You can struggle with yourself internally and torment yourself with a difficult decision for ages. But I think you’d better ask the advice of people who really matter.
At a conference in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, I heard entrepreneurs – some of whom were overwhelmingly successful – discuss how they came up with an initial concept. I have heard them say time and time again that they are letting the market tell them what they need. They were not afraid to rotate when they received new information. They were also not afraid to try to do something radically different from their peers, because they had listened to their clients and were convinced that they had what they wanted. They stood firm against the opposition.
So what are the ways to let the market tell you what it needs? I have already written about some of these methods – I thought it was important to put them all in one place.
1. Try to license your idea.
Submitting your idea to potential licensees is a great way to get feedback. If your submission is declined, ask why your product idea isn’t right for the business. What you find may surprise you. Use the feedback you receive to rethink and refine your idea. Most of the products that end up being licensed were rejected for some reason at first.
2. Read the product reviews.
What do customers appreciate? What are they frustrated with? What do they want to be different? Critical reviews of my book, A simple idea, helped me figure out how to improve it when I sat down to write an updated and revised edition. Product reviews offer a real treasure of insight. Minez them.
3. Attend a trade show.
To be honest, I don’t think you even need to get a stand. Instead, take a prototype of your idea with you to your industry trade show and speak up. How do people react to your idea? Are they excited about it? As you walk, take inventory. What is popular? Where is the industry going? Which stands are crowded and why?
Related: How To Find Your Next Big Business Idea
4. Show your creativity in a Maker Faire.
I recently wrote about how great these events are for testing an idea. When I was young, I did more or less the same thing, but Maker Faire was not there so I had to look for art fairs and street festivals. (Some were better suited than others.)
Life is Good founder Bert Jacobs did the same at the age of 20. He and his brother traveled across the country for five years to try (mostly to no avail) to sell T-shirts they made with their pickup truck. By the time they were about to give up, they found a winner, completely selling the design in one day. Listening to the market later encouraged him to create a non-profit branch of his business.
5. Consider crowdfunding your idea.
It takes a lot of work to run a successful campaign, but it can pay off. A successful campaign provides proof of demand. There is no better evidence that someone is digging into their pocket to pay for your product idea.
When I had the idea to reinvent the shape of the pick, the first inclination that my partner and I had was that players would love the picks with pictures of bodies of women in bikini. Sex sells, right? False. When we asked local music stores to post our potential designs at their checkouts and asked for feedback, we found out that our customers liked the skull design the most. The contribution was crucial to our success.
7. Create a YouTube channel.
It’s less suitable for a product, but fantastic for a brand. My inventRight business teaches people how to fire their ideas. So my partner and I created a YouTube channel and started downloading short informal videos in which we discuss different aspects of licensing. We interact with more people this way than any other medium. For example, our audience frequently asks us to create videos on different subjects. We know what they are looking for because they tell us literally.
Look for answers in the market to help you move forward. Chess is just an opportunity to get it right!
Related: Do you have a business idea? Here’s how to see if it’s sustainable.