Jackson is full of ideas, but there is one idea in particular that always rises to the top. He wants to use his company to make a difference in the world. He’d like to start a business that would primarily employ youth who have aged-out of the foster care system. He has talked to many people about his idea and has received a great deal of encouragement and support - mostly from his friends and family, who don’t have much experience with foster youth. Recently he developed a plan to start and has put the word out to various organizations who work with emancipated foster youth, letting them know he is hiring. However, he’s having trouble connecting with and hiring the foster youth in his area. He’s perplexed because he knows from research that foster youth need jobs. What’s going on here? Jackson knows of a need that exists, and he has created a solution that he thinks will meet that need. So why is he having a hard time getting things rolling? He’s hit a common roadblock.
Roadblock: Making assumptions about your idea
You’ve observed a need for something. You may have asked your friends to give you feedback on your idea. They may stare at you blankly. Or they may be the most enthusiastic encourager. But unless they are the people that would use or interact with the idea should it become a reality, their opinion doesn’t matter. Not one bit. It is great to surround yourself with people who will encourage you in what you are doing. Hang on to them. But don’t rely on them to help you know if your idea will resonate with those you want it to. You need to talk with the actual people who could benefit from your idea. Simply stated, failing to do so prior to developing a solution is a waste of time and money.
Solution: Talk to the Right People
You need to get insight from the people who will be benefiting from what you want to create. Start with who you know and move on from there. Perhaps you’ve talked to your friends, and maybe they are even in your target demographic. But your friends know you, and that taints their feedback a bit (for better or for worse). So getting an unbiased opinion from someone who doesn’t have much to lose or gain from sharing their thoughts with you is a good place to start.
Let’s take Jackson as an example. Jackson needs to talk to teens who have recently aged out of the foster care system. He needs to talk to social workers and other organizations serving foster youth. Once Jackson does this he may find that his original idea or assumption of providing jobs to foster youth is a great one—and much needed. But he may also discover that the location of his business isn’t near any public transportation making it hard to get to. When he talks to the right people (former foster youth), he’ll discover the location of his business is an important factor in the success of his mission.
The best way to avoid this roadblock is to talk to people before you start. But if you’ve already hit it, all is not lost. You just need to make some changes.
So whether you’ve hit this roadblock, or you’d like to avoid it altogether, we’d love to help. We’d love to help you come up with a plan for how, what, and when to ask the right questions to the right people—a process called Customer Discovery. Check out our coaching programs or schedule a coaching session. Your heart is in the right place and your idea will get there too.