Contributor: Katie Van Dyke
During my time working with entrepreneurs, I have had many ask me if I would buy their product. A product they had put a lot of thought into designing. A majority of entrepreneurs start seeking feedback about their product or service after they have spent countless hours…and cash… developing and designing a prototype. Are they doing this backwards? Yes.
Even before investing in a prototype, an entrepreneur should use market research and statistical data to understand who might be their potential customer. It could be one segment of customers, or several.
Once an entrepreneur has discovered their potential customers, the next move is to get out of the office to start seeking information. They should spend time at an outdoor shopping area or a busy place surrounded by people who might have interest in, have a similar product, or use a similar service already. The entrepreneur should take notes and explain that they are developing a new product but want to get feedback from them. Most people won’t mind speaking to someone for a short period of time.
Here are some important questions for an entrepreneur to ask:
- Is there a need for my product/service? Does a similar item already exist? If not, what are people doing as an alternative to my product now?
- What do people want to see me develop? Is it close to the design I already had drawn out or completely different? Is it similar to what I designed and just need to make a few adjustments?
- Am I not getting interest out of people when approaching them about my product? Why? Once again, ask is there a need or is it just important to me? Are people searching out alternatives already, waiting for a new version or design? Or, do I need to completely pivot with the findings of their feedback?
By carefully surveying the customer landscape, an entrepreneur will then be able to move forward to the next step- creating a minimally viable product (MVP). An MVP is a prototype that is the most- simple first version of your product or service that you can then use to interview with potential customers for a second more in depth study of the actual product to be sold. From there, an entrepreneur would once again gain very insightful feedback from the group that might be paying customers one day!