Is there a market? It is wise to check before you dive in (but sometimes you have to make the leap of faith.)

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You probably won’t have this problem if your business is tried and true — if you have established clients and ready and recurring demand for your product or service. But what happens when you want to try something new, perhaps a new service, client group, marketing strategy or initiative?

In one situation, I know a software developer spent years building a new product to meet what he (rightfully) believed would help his business weather changes in the industry. And if you looked into his “market space” you would see at least two other competitors who apparently also observed the same market and developed their own products to serve it. On the surface, all three appeared to be doing things right, with websites, product descriptions and in one case, at least, a rather slick marketing video.

The software developer approached me for some marketing advice. I listened, and asked questions, and checked with the competition, and found that the story was that no one in this industry sector had cracked the nut. One competitor — despite a superficially leading place in the industry segment — had managed to sell just two units of the product for a bit more than $1,000 each — and one of his clients had decided to bail — and cancel the contract.

It looks like, in this space, everyone was chasing the perceived market but no one had actually discovered it.

Another example of anticipating markets wrongly is within the media world. About a decade ago, print and broadcast media companies became concerned that, with the advent of the internet, there would be convergence between the different media formats, and so they tried to bulk up and create media conglomerates. Most have not done so well, in part because new players arrived the scene — Facebook and Google — and changed the rules of the game.

How do these thoughts relate to your business?

First I don’t want to discourage you from experimenting, trying new things, and risking new market adventures. If you don’t, you will stagnate and ultimately be overtaken by others who see he opportunities you don’t.

However, there is a danger in rushing forward with an invention or innovation before you have confidence about the market. Best advice: Test out your ideas on new or potential clients and see if you can get some early orders why you are proving the product.If you can’t but still think you should proceed, make sure that failure won’t blow your business out of the water. Take risks, but be thoughtful.

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