With the seeds of your business idea still in the sprouting stage, it can be easy to get really excited and be absolutely sure of your success. But this myopic view can be more dangerous and disappointing than you think.
At this early point in your business planning, what will bring you the most valuable information about the viability of your idea is feedback. But where should you go to get it? Are the friends and family you trust going to give you the feedback you’re looking for, or should you consult an uninvolved party instead?
Objectivity is Key
Your trust your friends and family. But will they be as objective as you need them to be? Your loved ones can offer a lot of good advice about your suitability to a particular type of business. But they may not be able to tell you what your chances are for success, or whether your marketing strategy will work. So yes, you should definitely consult with your loved ones, but also seek out other sources.
Polling the Public
Those who inhabit social media, forums and the internet in general can be of infinite value to your plan. Opinions sourced in this way don’t cost you anything but your time. Ask your contacts on Facebook and Twitter to weigh in on particular aspects of your idea. Of course, you’ll want to be careful about how much you share and how you word your request, as you never know who may be reading. These sources can be a great way to get feedback on things like a promotional campaign, new product or potential logo.
Forums dedicated to the small business are another terrific source to access when you need feedback. These often count seasoned business owners as members, who are only too happy to give you the honest feedback you’re looking for. You may even be able to get feedback without joining; simply reading the responses received by others can be enough to give you plenty of insight.
Free survey sites can also be of great value. Not only can you put together a survey without revealing who you are, but you can get a response from a wide swath of potential customers. The key to a successful survey is to give careful thought to your objectives and communicate what you’re looking for as clearly as possible.
Don’t Discount Banks and Investors
Today, a bank offers much more than financial services; it can also offer you the advice you need for the successful planning and marketing of your business. Although you may have to open a new account to get this advice, it can be a small price to pay for the feedback you’ll receive.
Another great way to get your idea in front of someone who can provide you with feedback is to present it to a potential investor. Remember that the majority of investors have realised their own business success, and so their experiences can be of great benefit to you. Even if your idea is turned down, this source of feedback will give you the information you need to make your idea more formidable.
Get Together with your Peers
Networking is another great source of feedback. With so many events for entrepreneurs, you can access a large pool of peers in several sectors, each of whom can provide you with valuable information. And the camaraderie that develops by sharing that new entrepreneur experience can yield lifelong personal and business friendships.
You can also use crowdsourcing as a way to get feedback and financial support at the same time, but you might want to approach this with caution unless you’ve protected your idea. Focus groups and mentors can also help you get the information you seek, but it’s important to choose the right group of people as well as find a mentor with whom you can really connect.
With so many terrific resources available for obtaining feedback, you can get a very clear and accurate picture of how far your business idea can really go.