Your journey as an entrepreneur will likely begin in ignorance. Whatever you know about your product and your target market will always be dwarfed by what you don’t know. Will it present itself in a manner appealing to your audience? How quickly will your audience jump on the product? Will they recommend it? Is it a good idea to hit the market right now? These are just a few of the questions whose answers will elude you if you don’t listen to the market.

Gut feelings aren’t enough. You need to pay attention to what the market is telling you, even if they aren’t saying a thing. When you don’t know whether to turn left or right, listen to the market. The question is, how do you do that?

Read Reviews

The fact that the Internet has allowed just about anyone to share their opinion is a mixed blessing, but you can use it to your advantage. Use reviews to get a good idea of how your product is being perceived and used. Try to stick to negative reviews. Positive reviews are nice and may tell you what you’re doing right, but negative reviews are far more informative. These are the reviews that will tell you what you’re doing wrong and can give you the information you need to improve your start-up and product.

Gather these reviews and compare them to each other. Try to find any patterns or trends in their complaints. One complaint about your product’s usability may be a fluke; a hundred is cause for concern and action.

Participate in a Trade Show

Trade shows are great for talking to your market, because the majority of the people there are looking for products. They’re already in the right mindset, so take advantage of that. You can get a booth and talk to interested customers, or you can just bring a prototype and talk to people. Figure out if they’re excited or disinterested.

Keep an eye on the other booths. See if any products in particular are getting people excited and what seems to be getting the most attention. This will tell you where the market is going and what’s getting it riled out, which can help you refocus your product development.

Make Surveys

The best way to find out what the market’s thinking is to ask. Surveys are a great way to find out what the market prefers. There are plenty of ways to get those surveys into the hands of your customers. You can have them answer surveys at the counter while they’re waiting for their purchase. You could even have local retailers have potential designs on display and ask people which on they prefer.

Make a YouTube Channel

Getting feedback as an entrepreneur can be tricky. Fortunately, people are full of opinions. A great way to provoke them into sharing those opinions involves giving them something to react to, such as a video on your YouTube channel.

Putting up demonstration or development videos can provoke viewers into responding. They’ll tell you what they think and you can use that information to figure out whether you’re on the right track or not. As a bonus, this will make them feel as though they’re part of the development process, which will make them more invested in the product and its future.

Get into Crowdfunding

There is nothing that proves your idea is viable as much as crowdfunding. Successfully crowdfunding your product proves that a receptive market is out there. Companies such as Sony and creatives such as Koji Igarashi have used crowdfunding to prove to potential investors that people want their products.

For the most part, this is best done before going to market. Going into crowdfunding as a successful and well-established business can backfire and make your company look like it’s just trying to get more money off the consumer. If the business isn’t doing so well or has not made it yet, crowdfunding should be a safe way to test the waters.

There are plenty of ways for a smart entrepreneur to listen to the market. All you have to do is be willing to put yourself out there. Take every negative review or dislike on a video as constructive criticism. Every time you hear something bad about your product, you’re getting guided toward a better one.

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