One of my favorite questions when talking to business owners is, “What actions did you take before opening your business?” The most typical answer I receive is” I had an idea and I opened a business.” Very seldom do I find anyone that has tested the idea of a product or service that was going to be offered before actually investing their time and dollars.
With a survival rate of less than 50% for business start-ups, it only makes sense to find out if there is a vibrant market for your product or service. The second part of the research is to find out who else is offering the same product or service and how their business is doing.
Testing an idea is not an easy task. Asking your friends and family what they think about your idea will not give you the needed honest answers. Take your idea and identify your target market then do the following:
- Write your personal and business story. This process is not a two minute process. To write your story and turn it into a 20 minute to one hour presentation will take time.
- If possible set up appointments and share your story.
- Make cold calls if necessary
- Gather focus groups and make a presentation. Don’t invite your friends and relatives; ask them to invite someone from your target market that does not know you.
- Find groups, clubs, etc. that need a speaker and share your story
While you are researching your target market, check out and see who else is doing something similar. Don’t disregard the possibility of forming a partnership with a competitor; it may help jump start your business.
Yes, business, marketing and financial plans still need to be developed; but before investing time and money in creating that part of the business foundation, make sure that there are people who will buy your product.
Easy doesn’t do it. Al Bernstein
Nick J. Petra CFP www.strategicduck.com