Everyone talks about how important an original idea is. Yes, of course, a great idea is a spectacular asset. But your unique idea is not the most important part of your business.
I’ll say that again: Your idea is not the most important part of your business.
So what’s more important than your million-dollar idea?
Recognizing a need that your customers have.
Need versus Idea
If you have a great idea, but nobody needs it, then you are going to have a really hard time selling it. That’s not to say that you only have to build products that are necessities, like a weather-proof shingle, or a container that keeps food fresher. A kids’ toy or collectible can still fulfill a need in the market. It’s more about researching your market and understanding what people are looking for.
Ideally, recognizing a need is better to establish first, then formulating your product from there. You can have an idea first, but just be flexible with how that idea could change or pivot once you understand your audience’s needs more fully. For example, you may want to build a 2 foot fantasy statue collectible, and then after learning more about your target market, you might see that they respond much better to 4-6 inch action figure collectibles. Plus, you discover that it’s much easier to get a distributor to shelf a 6 inch package, than agree to carry and shelf a 2 foot box. Your idea is still there, but it has shifted to fit the market better.
Why People Have a Hard Time with This
Almost every new entrepreneur has a special idea that they call their baby. This idea is something they have been thinking about long before they start their company. It’s something they have dedicated a good amount of their brain power to. It’s something they’ve been cultivating and idealizing for months, and more likely, for years. It’s a hard pill to swallow, that maybe your idea isn’t headed exactly in the right direction. And furthermore, once that entrepreneur starts their business officially, that idea becomes even more rooted in their hearts and minds. It’s important to be able to separate yourself from your idea, take a step back, and be able to look at it from an unbiased mindset.
How to Break Apart From Your Idea and Assess the Need
Pulling yourself away from your idea is not going to be easy. And I’m not saying that your idea isn’t the right one. There’s a good chance that it has merit. It’s more about making sure that your idea fulfills some sort of need or desire with your target audience, before you invest countless hours and/or dollars into it. The last thing you want is to look back 6 months from now and wish you had understood your market sooner.
So take some time, some real, dedicated time, to research your market and your target audience. Find the places where they hang out, online and in person. Read what they are saying about current, similar products. Find articles that talk about how to sell to these types of people. Here are some practical questions to ask yourself:
Who is my Target Audience? What things are they interested in? Where do they spend their time? What makes them different from others?
What gets them really excited? What really upsets them?
Is there anything missing, that your audience really wishes someone would fulfill? A problem they need solved? A product that they are asking for?
Is your product unique? Has it been done before, and if yes, how can you set yourself apart?
What pricing is your audience used to spending on similar products? Does your product fit within the current pricing, or does it fit as a more premium, exclusive item?
Where does your audience by their products? How can your product fit within the constraints of those purchase points?
How challenging is your product to develop and/or produce? Can you meet the price point that your audience expects?
And there are many, many more questions you will discover and need to ask yourself…
Don’t Give Up, Just Be Smart
I hope that this doesn’t overwhelm you. I just want you to have the information you need to have the best chance to succeed. The best entrepreneurs know how to pivot and shift to best reach their markets. We’ve helped all sizes of businesses take their dreams to the next level. We can help you too.
Chalkboard with Hand Photo, cropped, credit: Cristian Carrera, Flickr