When starting a business, our first thought is often: Can I make money with this business?
I previously wrote about how to evaluate a business idea in the article Evaluating Your Business Idea and Product . The article lists some helpful questions you need to ask yourself when thinking of what products or services to offer.
But how can you quickly tell if there’s a demand for your business idea? The first step is simple: OBSERVE.
Take time out and go to the mall, or a park where a lot of people congregate. And observe the whats and the hows of their activities.
In one mall visit for example, two things stood out for me. One, almost everyone has a cellphone (or smartphone) and many can be seen talking on the phone, texting or checking their emails. Two, there’s a lot of baby boomers and older people walking about, shopping or just hanging out in the mall. This observation tells me that there’s a huge mobile market, and that catering to baby boomers can assure business owners of a sizeable customer base.
Let’s use as an example a question asked by someone from Yahoo Answers. He asked if he can make a lot of money tinting windows, both of houses and cars.
I advised him to go out and observe. Walk around the neighborhood, or drive to nearby areas, and count how many windows of homes have been tinted. Or sit down in a bench by the busy street and count the number of cars that drive past with tinted windows.
In my walks around my neighborhood, for example, rare are the houses with tinted windows and those I’ve seen are for their sunrooms. This tells me either two things: there’s a big market for a window tinting business; or that there is no demand for such a service.
The second step is to ASK.
He needs to talk to the neighbors and ask them why their windows are not tinted. Have they ever considered tinting their windows? Do they know the benefits of tinting the windows? If the answer is because they think that tinting windows is not important or necessary, then he’ll have a hard time getting customers for his new business.
While it is good to hire a market research company and scientifically poll thousands of respondents, home business owners can do well by simply keeping their eyes and ears on their target market.