Have you ever been in this situation: you get excited about a business idea, you share it with a random group of people casually, only to be shot down with negativity and fear?
I’ve been in this situation many times.
The irony is that most of the people who shoot down the ideas aren’t subject matter experts, or entrepreneurs themselves.
Usually in situations like these, someone has projected their own fears, and their negativity can be crippling – it can stop you in your tracks and make you doubt yourself.
These Debbie Downers are, more often than not, the type of person who daydreams about doing something bold, yet never has the courage to do it – because it’s ‘not safe’ and the chances of success are ‘not guaranteed’.
Well …. Newsflash! Nothing is guaranteed in business. That’s what makes it so attractive – you can go boom or bust.
A study in the US by the Bureau of Labour Statistics said that about half of all new businesses survive five years or more, and about a third survive 10 years or more.
With these depressing rates of business survival (basically you have a 33% chance of having a business that lasts), who can you turn to for prudent business advice?
1) Fellow Entrepreneurs
Fellow entrepreneurs are great sounding boards for advice as they have walked the talk. They are likely to also take calculated risks, just like you, and they are likely to have had the confidence to have embraced the unknown.
They will have insights to share, connections to introduce you to, and know first-hand about the challenges that entrepreneurs face.
While I’m an advocate of open sharing – it’s important to note not everyone in business is nice. Bear that in mind. You should be selective with how much you share with people who have the same resources as you – they can easily duplicate the very same idea, and even do it better than you do!
If you’re feeling cautious, you can ask your confidante to sign a Confidentiality Agreement – though, let’s face it — this could be a buzzkill!
I have personally found a great support group from the entrepreneurs I’ve met through LadyBoss Networking events, and also LadyBoss Elite members – our membership program for female entrepreneurs which includes 6 annual meetings a year where we share ideas and business challenges!
(P.S. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to learn more or nominate yourself here.)
2) Subject Matter Experts
Subject matter experts refer to anyone with an advanced knowledge of that business idea you’re excited about.
For example – let’s say you’re thinking about launching “Product X” – a website service that simplifies social media management.
You should speak to people who are experts on social media and who do this, everyday — day in and day out.
Relevant experts for “Product X” would be professionals in agencies, media professionals, in-house communications professionals and so on. They would be able to tell you if there is a market for your product, if it is unique, as they could be your target customers too.
3) Researchers and professional organisations
If the business idea you have is especially technical, researchers and professional organisations could be the way to go.
For example, you’re interested in launching health product, “Product Y” a tasty dietary supplement for people with diabetes.
People you should consult for “Product Y” would be experts on this, which could include dietitians, non-profit / research organisations, or academics who have done extensive research on this topic and can give you solid statistics and data.
Better still – if you find a person or organisation that gets excited about your product as much as you, explore if there are mutually beneficial ways to work together.
If you’re venturing into a relatively unknown industry or space, which is capital-intensive, then perhaps you should send in the big guns – engage a market research company to do a professional job.
Trying to do this on a budget? Put together a focus group, read research reports, or conduct customer surveys before you launch to learn more about the topic of interest.
4) Your Circle of Trust
Let’s not forget there are also people who, despite not being in business themselves, are your greatest supporters – they could be friends, or family.
They may not understand exactly what you go through, but they have always been there.
This sacred group of people are your trusted confidantes, who have been with you through thick and thin, they are the ‘cheerleaders’ in your life who inspire you with their optimism.
Hold on to these people as much as you can – even if they’re kicking and screaming for you to let them go!
Every entrepreneur needs encouragement and a trusted circle can give you the support you need while you find your gazillion-dollar business idea!