Say you are trying to start a store that carries a special line of sporting clothes for women. You would want to speak retail store owners. But you would also want to interview other women who have some interest in becoming more physically active, and men who buy gifts for women.
Remember, while specialization can be very profitable if the market segment chosen is largely untapped, the larger your market, the higher the potential sales. Getting feedback from all different types of people will help you to see your business in a whole new light - the feedback can lead to adjustments that make your business appeal to a larger audience than you were initially targeting.
In seeking a range of perspectives on your idea, you might consider doing a small-scale "trial run" of your product or service. This need not be an intense study of the focus group and double-sided-mirror type. Your family and friends make excellent guinea pigs. The government-funded Small Business Administration (SBA) offers free help to entrepreneurs in most areas of the country. They will help you with your business plan and provide consulting from their small business advisors. Use the SBA and put those tax dollars to use! Suck the marrow out of every possible resource you have. While briefing others on your idea, you may even find a few interested investors, partners, employees, or customers along the way.
If you're asking for opinions, don't get frustrated by negative feedback. Although positive comments are great for your confidence, they will not necessarily help your business. Constructive criticism is what indicates weaknesses and areas of untapped potential.
Things to think about
- What are the best sources of feedback for your business idea?
- What evaluation techniques will you use to make your product or service appeal to the largest group of people possible?
- What ways are there to evaluate your competitors in the marketplace?
- How will you evaluate your own business on a regular basis to improve in certain areas?
- Have you established a network of outside advisors to assist you in your business?
- What constructive feedback have you received that will benefit your business?
It is essential to have your business idea evaluated from many different perspectives - others will be able to see different strengths and weaknesses in your proposed business than the ones you saw. The wider the range of feedback, the better. Make sure that in addition to focusing on the comments of your target market, you introduce your idea to a cross section of people.