When starting your own business, it’s important to do solid market research – you must be sure you’ll have customers and lots of them. When talking with potential customers, or end users, you want to seek information about their pain points. You are researching, not selling. You must accept the possibility that your product or service idea may drastically change or disappear after these conversations, and be okay with that. Poor listening to the market is a major reason for the high failure rate of new businesses.
Last week I observed a “discovery session” for four entrepreneurs (Es) who were creating tools for adult learning. 45 older adults were invited to share their frustrations with learning. The participants were divided into four groups with one E to each group. Two of the four Es spent the hour talking more about the virtues of their product idea than listening to the needs of the group. One E threw out a series of yes/no questions, which came across as a way of corralling participants into agreeing with the E’s proposition. When a few members piped up and suggested different features, alternatives or hailed the competition, you could see these Es bristle. These Es were clearly in love with their own solutions and could not help but shift to selling mode instead of gathering unbiased and constructive information. The other two Es, however, had the right approach. As a matter of fact, you could not tell whether these two Es even had a product idea. They sat back and let the participants vent about their struggles with learning how to use a cell phone or installing a computer. These Es asked open-ended questions resulting in so much content that the scribes could barely keep up. In addition, these Es, not blinded by their own solutions, were intensely interested in how the participants valued existing tools.
Need help learning how to deeply listen and ask questions that put you on the path to entrepreneurial success? Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com.