Being an entrepreneur is not about massaging your ego for having achieved the extraordinary idea you came up with. And yet this is the most common mistake made by all entrepreneurs. They fall in love with their idea and move mountains to materialize it in their image and likeness. However, when they put it on the market, they discover that it isn’t that viable, as nobody wants it.
Even those who know the dangers of this mistake, even those who have been dealing with entrepreneurship for many years, often fall into this trap, this trick that our mind creates. We think that if we like it, if we would buy something, others will also like it and buy it.
That is what happened to André Marquet. After five years assessing companies that were taking their first steps, to decide whether it was worth investing in them or not, he decided to launch himself into entrepreneurship, seduced by a friend’s idea. The security tag remover for clothing – something allowed you to enter and exit a store without stopping at the checkout and waiting ten minutes. This struck them as an extraordinary innovative idea. So remarkable that they forgot to validate its viability in the market and, after a year of much dedication and some investment, they discovered that it had no future after all.
It’s easy to see why this happens… no one wants to hear that their “baby” is ugly or flawed. And so they believe in the fantasy that their idea is amazing and that they just have to make it exactly as they envisioned it for everyone to see how great it is.
Talking and showing before you are ready is quite risky. People have no vision. They will criticize because they can’t perceive the greatness of what we have imagined. But, as soon as we can refine it a little more, they will be amazed. Besides, to show our idea ahead of time is to run the risk that they will copy us. Our idea, which is so unique, original, and extraordinary, cannot be copied!
And we let our brains marvel us, we invest more time and money while we fine-tune all the details. Finally, we set a date, have a grand opening, packed with friends and family, curious to see the result of what we have worked so hard on for so long. But there are no customers. Perhaps there are some, and the business becomes as bland as white rice. It neither grows nor goes bankrupt.
Let’s now take a step back and understand why this happened. When we imagine an idea and get excited, our rational side tends to be put aside. We get carried away, without realizing what doesn’t make sense in our idea, without noticing what needs to be improved, without taking into account the different constraints of who will use our business. Perspective goes out the window.
The same happens when you fall in love with someone. In those early days, everything is perfect and no flaws bother you. However, as time goes by, this rose-tinted glasses effect wears off and we begin to see the person we love in a different light.
In reality, people are not predisposed to fall instantly in love with other people’s ideas, i.e., your business. They will much more easily see everything that is wrong and ignore it.
On the other hand, if you involve people from the very beginning in the development of your idea, if you validate, together with your customers, each hypothesis on which you base your business, you will be able to build a business that is much more solid and adapted to the needs of your customers. Not only that, you’ll start to create a community of people who are already involved in the business and have had a part in the decisions, people who feel they have helped create your business. People who will be much more likely to buy and recommend the business when the time comes.
Imagine a cosmetics brand that lets you choose the new scent of its cream, that pays attention to what you have to say to understand whether you want a more liquid, creamy, or compact foundation, with sunscreen or anti-wrinkle properties. Instead of choosing to enter the market with the new creamy foundation with sunscreen, realizing later that customers don’t want a creamy foundation after all, or don’t want their foundation to include sunscreen, for different reasons.
The company would have invested months or years and thousands of euros in producing the new foundation, coming up with the package, the distribution, and the marketing strategy. All this only to withdraw the products from the market a short time later and start again from scratch, at great loss and with plenty of demoralization for the whole team. And, yet, this still occurs frequently.
If the company had already tested it, if they had asked their audience and given them the option to buy it on pre-sale, even before the product was developed, they would have discovered that their assumption that customers wanted sunscreen in their foundation was wrong. And, by talking to your audience, you would realize what’s wrong with that idea and what people really wanted in a good foundation.
Whenever you want to start a business, add a new product to your portfolio, create a new service, go ahead and ask your audience first, do interviews, make a very simplified version of what you have in mind, and test yourself with real customers, along with every step you take, every assumption you have. This’s the only way you can save time and money, building a business that will have customers.