Before you sink your life savings or borrowings into a business venture, it’s important to check if there is, in fact, a market for your products/services and how big that market is.
Step 1: Get to know the people and businesses that may become your customers.
Step 2: Test your idea/product with your customers to see if they want it and how much they will pay for it.
Conducting a survey before you start your business will help you to identify gaps in your own thinking, but most especially, you will understand your customers’ PAIN - an appropriate acronym for Problems, Ambitions, Irritations and Needs. The greater the pain point for the customer, the higher the likelihood that they will pay for a solution… therein lies the opportunity for your business. Match the need with a solution that the customer can afford and you may just be in business!
The trick is to go beyond family and friends when you are running a survey (they are unlikely to be completely truthful because they want to be supportive). Ask the people whom you think will be interested; ask complete strangers; ask your network; ask on social media and face to face. The more people with whom you test your business idea/product, the greater your insights as to who may actually be your target market and what they want.
Also, be sure to include additional demographic or behavioural questions that are relevant to your industry.
Below is a possible list of questions that a fictitious rooibos tea company may ask before starting up.
Are they rooibos drinkers?
- Do you drink rooibos tea?
- How often do you drink rooibos tea?
- Yearly or less
- How often do you drink either hot or iced rooibos tea?
- Do you drink flavoured rooibos tea - why? Which are your favourite flavours?
- Which brands do you drink – why?
- How often do you shop online?
- Do you buy rooibos online?
- How interested would you be in a rooibos tea delivery service?
- What features do you like most about the brand you currently use?
- How long have you used [brand name]?
- What do you least like about the brand/the availability/the quality?
Are they potential customers?
- This is our product – would you like a free sample?
- This is our business concept – we have a small rooibos tea farm. We wish to offer an online shopping and delivery service for rooibos tea lovers. We will offer our customers the ability to curate their own monthly or bi-weekly rooibos tea delivery from our choice of 7 natural and flavoured teas. Is this something that may be of interest to you? Why?
- What features would you like to see on the website/product?
- What’s the one feature we can add that would make our product/idea more valuable to you?
- For your next purchase, how likely are you to give us a try? What would encourage you to try us?
- What will be their biggest objections to doing business with you?
Demographics (to build a picture of your target market)
May we ask a few personal questions to help us understand who our customers are, what interests you and how we can best give you great service? We assure you that we are compliant with privacy laws.
- How old are they?
- Where do they live? (rural v urban v township, national or local etc.)
- Are they married, married with children, single etc.?
- How much do they earn? (Have very broad categories here and allow the customer to decline to answer.)
- What would make them happy as rooibos drinkers?
- How do they feel about online shopping and deliveries – probe for pain points here
- What are their concerns?
- What frustrates them?
- Where do these people gather in groups – physically or on social media?
- What do they do for fun?
- What do they read?
- What other media do they digest?
PS: Don’t get hung up on your own ideas – use the feedback you receive to review and adapt your solution.