New Business Ideas Need Feedback
When you have an idea for a new business, getting feedback is important. By collecting as many independent opinions as possible, you can get a feel for whether your idea connects with people, attracts their interest, and has a potential market.
However, business idea feedback is about more than quantity â€“ which is lucky, because most of us donâ€™t have access to thousands of detailed opinions at once! Instead, you should focus your attention on improving the quality of your feedback.
Read on to get some practical tips on eliciting accurate and useful feedback on your new business idea, and learn how to avoid collecting opinions that do not help you to evaluate your idea and make intelligent, informed decisions.
What Makes Bad Feedback?
One of the first steps in improving the quality of your business idea feedback is taking the time to understand what you do not need.
Imagine that you have a new business idea that you pitch to a variety of friends, family, potential investors and experienced entrepreneurs. In a world where everybody is busy, all the time, you will usually receive the same few responses:
- I like your idea
- I donâ€™t like your idea
- Your idea has potential, but needs work
If you collate this data, you could get a broad overview of how your idea works. However, these simplistic responses overlap, making the process of decision-making more difficult.
For example, somebody who says that they like your idea may like it a lot. They may also like it a little bit. They may also like what you have pitched, but only based on the assumption that you will be doing more work on it and making changes.
This kind of feedback happens all too often and the problem is not with the people that are offering their thoughts â€“ it is with the way that you are asking them.
What Not To Ask When Looking For Feedback
I recently discovered a fascinating article by John Warrillow, a professional market researcher who understands the importance of great feedback and how to get it.
In the article, John outlines three common questions that entrepreneurs ask when testing business ideas, and explains why they are useless. Much like â€śDo I look nice in this dress?â€ť the questions imply a correct answer and get in the way of open discussion.
Before you try to get feedback, read Johnâ€™s article â€“ Want Feedback On Your Business Idea? Donâ€™t Ask These Three Questions.
Now we know what not to ask. Itâ€™s time to look at a few good ways to get better feedback on your idea.
Ask ForÂ A Pros And Cons List
The toughest thing about giving feedback on a business idea is being able to say things that are fairly negative. Most people go through life trying to be nice and, particularly if you ask friends and family for advice, they want to encourage you.
In an article on Inc.com, Jessica Stillman discusses the stress of giving honest feedback â€“ Fix How You Ask For Feedback. With this in mind, how can we make the process easier on our respondents?
One effective way to improve the quality of your feedback right away is to actively ask people for good and bad things about your business idea. Make this an obligatory part of the questionnaire, survey, or pitch â€“ what do you like about the idea, and what donâ€™t you like?
When somebody says something nice about your idea, they naturally feel more able to say something negative without offence.
By insisting that every respondent says a combination of good and bad things, you will find yourself with more precise feedback that allows you to improve your idea or make good decisions about moving forwards.
Ask For Questions
Another good technique for making feedback more honest and open is to ask people to respond with questions, not statements. Again, questions make it easier to criticise your business idea in a productive way.
Letâ€™s say that you are thinking about launching a new retail brand that sells clothing for babies. You make your pitch, and I have a few things to say:
- Competing with more established brands might be difficult
- There will be a lot of health and safety issues with baby products
- Babies ruin clothes. People look for the cheapest product, which supermarkets and chain stores have covered.
In this format, the feedback isnâ€™t all that useful. If anything, it has an air of negativity that is hard to digest.
But look at these same issues posed as questions:
- How will you compete with established brands?
- What will you do to comply with health and safety?
- Why would people pay more for your products rather than cheap supermarket options?
You do not need to respond to the people that have offered you feedback, but instead answer these questions yourself. It is up to you to decide whether you have good answers or not and, as a result, whether your business idea works.