Content provided by the Connecticut Small Business Development Center
When talking to entrepreneurs, you will get many answers as to what the hardest thing about entrepreneurship might be: to some it could be how time-consuming it is, to others the resources (both personal and financial) that it can take, and many would say how challenging it is to access to capital.
I won’t dismiss the fact that depending on our individual circumstances, we may all have different barriers to overcome. But you know what is the one, universal issue, that every single entrepreneur confronts regardless of their success?
Bias, their own bias.
We all bring our own “baggage” to entrepreneurship, and by this, I mean our own ideas and assumptions about the world. We bring our beliefs about how things should be: all those thoughts and emotional attachments to various ideas and beliefs influence how we approach a business idea.
See, the problem is that those biases make us think an idea we have to start a business or invent a new product, is the solution that’s either not out in the market, or that’s not being offered to its potential. So we put the cart before the horse and think of the solution before we really stop to question the problem that solution is meant to address.
So how do you stop yourself from allowing your own biases to make you think your idea is the next best thing after sliced bread? It doesn’t mean it couldn’t be, but you have to be willing to question it, to question your own assumptions and beliefs, and challenge your way of thinking to be open to discovering the right opportunity.
Start with the problem you believe you are solving, get out there, and ask others whether they have the same problem. Just because something is a problem for you, it doesn’t mean it’s a problem for everyone else. And would you want to invest resources on a problem that only you have?
1) If you get enough responses (from random people, not just those who like you) that seem to confirm that problem exists for others, then you should pose open-ended questions about your proposed solution, to get feedback that may enrich the solution you considered. Remember, yes/no questions don’t get you additional information, and you want to take advantage of the opportunity to further refine your solution to meet market demand.
2) Once you’ve gathered enough information to refine your problem/solution, then ask about the range people would be willing to pay for your product/idea, so that you can start collecting price points that could help in the further development of your solution. For example, if people aren’t willing to pay more than it would cost you to make it, then it might not be worth pursuing. At the same time, you may be underestimating what the market would be willing to pay, and missing an opportunity from not having enough information.
Open-minded information gathering helps you remove your own biases, and gives you the unique opportunity to tap into the ideas of others to enrich your own so that you can follow-through or pivot and make your offering even better and more appealing. This is the main way in which entrepreneurs think differently than others. They are willing to constantly challenge their own ideas, and to focus on solving problems for others that will, in turn, be profitable to them.
Written by Valeria Bisceglia, Connecticut Small Business Development Center Business Advisor.