Even if you build it, they might not come. However, you can almost count on them coming if it’s what they want and they like the price. It’s easier and less traumatic to first build it on paper before paying real money to build it and have no one come. Before you quit your day job to start your own business, find out if they’re going to buy from you.
Ask people if they’ll buy
Ask ten people if they would buy what you are selling at your price point. Ten is a fair number of people to ask but there is no reason why you couldn’t ask twenty. It’s your business. Twenty people telling you ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is a better sample than ten. If the results you get with twenty are not conclusive enough for you, then ask more people or change your questions. Keep asking people until you are comfortable with the answers you are getting. Asking questions before you quit your day job is a lot easier on your bank account than asking the questions after you’ve quit your job and spent your savings.
Ask the hard questions
You can count on the predictably polite answer to the next question being ‘yes’.
“Do you think you’d buy a Yellow Widget from me? I’m thinking of selling Yellow Widgets, in a few months, for maybe $20 each. I’ve checked it out. They are better than any Yellow Widgets you can find, anywhere.”
The positive answer you can expect to get from this type question is not always useful.
Set the stage for useful answers
Set the stage for getting actionable and useful answers. It’s worth the effort. If, from the beginning, you make it clear your questions are significant, you can expect thoughtful, honest answers. Assemble an interview packet for yourself to help you set the stage. It might include a non-disclosure agreement, a product or service brochure and interview sheet. There are two reasons for using a non-disclosure agreement. The first reason is to protect yourself from someone taking your idea from you. The second, and more important reason, at this stage, is to send a signal to the other person to prepare for a serious discussion. You can find a free basic non-disclosure template at the SCORE website. http://www.score.org/resources/non-disclosure-agreement-template
Modify it to fit your needs. Once the other person signs your non-disclosure disclosure agreement you can be certain they will be ready for a focused business discussion about what you are going to sell. You’ll get useful answers to your questions.
Make it easy to get a ‘Yes’
A blisteringly clear description of what you are selling is an all important part of the interview. The description should include a product photo or a graphic description of your service. The description should include the price, pricing options, a list of the features and the benefits. In the brochure, describe the benefit a customer will get from each feature. Along with the benefit, explain why the feature is better than the competitors and how the benefit creates value. Showing the other person a sample order form or service agreement will help to eliminate any miscommunication about benefits, features and cost.
Having an interview sheet, prepared in advance, tells the other person, you are taking the interview seriously. Asking the other person for permission to take notes during the conversation lets the other person know you value their input and it is important. People are more apt to participate usefully when they believe their participation is valued.
Save your completed interview sheets and interview notes. The answers you get from interviewing people can help you decide if you are ready to invest the time and effort in preparing a business plan. Information from your interview sheets can make powerful source material supporting your business plan when talking with a banker or investor.
Now you’re ready
At this point in the process, you’ll have a good idea if people are willing to buy what you want to sell and at your price point. You’ll know why they will buy from you. With the information you get from your interviews, you should be able to make an informed decision to go forward, or to set the idea aside, or go back to the drawing board.
Your savings will be intact, you’ll still have your day job and you’re ready for the next step, a solid business plan.