When you come up with an idea for a business or an invention, often the first people you will want to tell are your friends. It’s convenient and they’re also likely to be supportive, which is great. But there is one important thing to keep in mind at all times.
Your friends are not your target market.
Just because your friends like your widget, doesn’t mean the 22 million other people in Australia will like it too. Because they are your friends, they are more inclined to trust you and so they’ll believe in your product or service way before a stranger would be convinced.
They’re likely to say things like “oh my goodness, great idea! I’ve always wanted/needed/wished I had one of those!” But would they pick it up in a store and hand over their hard-earned cash to buy it if they had never heard of you? Perhaps not.
You need to go out and gather the honest opinion of strangers before you have an accurate idea of the target market’s likely response. Try the local markets as a starting point. How many people that you don’t know approach your stall and want one of your widgets? How many of them understand the need for it and think the price is reasonable?
If all your friends think your widget is amazing, it’s easy to assume that your whole target market will think the same. But even if a product is genuinely amazing, there are a host of other issues that can prevent people from purchasing. Financial constraints, other widgets that make yours unnecessary, an aversion to your brand, accessibility, and just the fact that they were doing fine without it before means that only a very small percentage of your target market will actually purchase. And that’s if your product is really, really good. If it’s average, then the market is even less. So take this into account when doing any estimation of your customers, and don’t base your estimates on what your friends think.
By all means rely on your friends for their support, understanding and positive feedback. But remember that they are, first and foremost, your friends. They will almost always say what you want to hear! Feedback from your friends is never a replacement for thorough market research.