So, you have a brilliant idea for a new product. But the idea is only the first step. It’s the spark that lights the fire. Just as a spark won’t burn in a vacuum, your business won’t survive without customers. To make sure your customers will be as excited as you are about your idea, hit the books, the streets and the stores to examine the market you are about to enter.

Identify your market

It is important to test your business idea and make sure there’s a viable, sustainable and growing market for it before you invest time and money launching it. This takes a great deal of painstaking research. You need to identify your market. How big is the market for your product or service? Is it a new or mature market? A lot of this research can be done on-line and off-line, by going to industry associations, trade shows and exhibitions. You need to look at your prospects as well as the competition. Find out for yourself what prospects want, what the competition is selling and at what price point. Once you have studied the competition, determine whether you can sell the same type of product or service at a lower cost. Can you add value and charge a premium?

Know your customer

Identify your customer. Profile the perfect customer. Go beyond the demographics of age, income and social class. Look deeper at the main motivation for buying your product or service. This will provide additional insights into how you can tailor your product to better fit your customer.

Take the zig-zag way

Watch a skier. He doesn’t take his skis and point them directly down the mountain – otherwise he would break his neck. He zig-zags. That’s what you need to do with your product or service. Slow down and alter your course according to the trends you’ve observed rather than bulldozing your way into the market. There may be hidden nuggets along the way that can make your product better and more appealing.

Shop around

Visit the stores. The items on the shelves have been researched by companies who have spent a great deal of money to get them there. Use what they have learnt. Look for new products, trends and markets to see how customers in your area of interest spend their money.

Keep your ears and mind open

Get feedback about your idea. Chat with friends and associates. Send out questionnaires. Even negative feedback is very useful. It can help eliminate problems. If your idea is good, it should be able to come through successfully. With hard work, thorough research and a little bit of luck, you can use the spark of your good idea to create entrepreneurial fireworks.

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