Business Developer Karen Lanning about entrepreneurship and customer research (Blog).


As a business developer, I speak to many starting entrepreneurs. After they have told me about their idea, they often ask me: "What do you think, is it a good idea?” Unfortunately, I have to be honest and to tell them that I can't say if it's a good idea or not. Imagine that I could predict with great certainty whether a business idea will be a success or not.

In most cases, it's not important at all whether I think it's a good idea. Unless I'm the exact target group. Of course, I can try to imagine being part of the target group of students, for example. After all, I was also a student at Tilburg University, then Katholieke Universiteit Brabant (or KUB). But since I haven't been a student for several years now, and more things have changed than just the name of the university, my opinion about an idea aimed at students is not relevant.

But what is relevant then? Go and find your potential customers and have real conversations with them. Feedback and input from the market will give you insight into whether you're on the right track and whether your idea matches your customers’ problems or needs. But how do you go about these conversations and gather the right information? The Lean Startup method helps you to quickly discover which assumptions are correct and, perhaps even more importantly, which assumptions are not. In this way, you can quickly take the next steps or adjust your idea to fit another target group or problem.

In the first phase, you don't talk about your idea, service, or product but focus on really understanding the problem you are trying to solve or the need you are filling. You look for real behavior. You are not looking for socially desirable answers. Questions that start with “would you” or “do you want to” should preferably be deleted. They do not offer real information. An example making this clear right away is: If being asked, a lot of people say they'd like to lose a few kilos. But to what extent do they really make an effort? If they want to do something but have never seriously tried, what are the chances that they will make a serious effort with your solution?

That's easier said than done. On you will find information and movies about the Lean Startup method and also about how to ask the right questions. This Roadmap is a good way to guide you through the process and contains useful links to the information.

If this is difficult for you or if you have already validated the problem, feel free to make an appointment with me. Then we can discuss your next steps. Schedule a meeting with Calendly!

Good luck with the conversations with customers!
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