How to Start Your Business - 10 Week Challenge

Week 5 Challenge: Talk to 5 or more entrepreneurs in a similar business

As a new entrepreneur, you will have your ideas of making the business successful. Since you trust your idea, you will tend to look at the business only from your lens. You will accept information which matches your belief and reject any facts which point out the flaws in your idea. This flaw of the mind is called the confirmation bias.

Do not over-estimate your intelligence and ideas. You will learn a lot by talking to a few businessmen who have attempted a similar business before. If you ask another entrepreneur in the same industry for input, most people will be glad to answer your questions. You have to make sure you are not a competitor and you must also ask the right questions.

Talk to other entrepreneurs who have done it before

For example, if you are starting a restaurant, you can talk to a restaurant owner in a different area. Though you are into the same business if your target area some miles away, businessmen won't consider you as a competition. On the other hand, if you are building a software product, other businessmen will consider you as a competitor even if you are in a different city.

You will have to use your best judgment to decide which entrepreneurs you can talk to. It is a misconception that other entrepreneurs will not provide the details. In fact, most businessmen will be happy to share their learning with you.

This week, you have to talk to at least 5 businessmen in the same(or comparable) business. Do not speak only to successful entrepreneurs. You will learn valuable lessons from someone who tried a similar idea and failed. A good balance is to talk to a few successful, some unsuccessful and a couple of others who are in the middle.

You can find them by contacting random people, using Facebook Groups, Linked In or Reddit. You can also use the traditional route of asking your friends and family to put you in touch with someone they know.

Draft a questionnaire

Draft a set of questions to ask them. Some good areas to know about are:

  • Initial investment required
  • Monthly operational cost
  • Mistakes to avoid
  • Handling manpower, supplies, sales, etc
  • Time to break even
  • Profit margins
  • Ideas to cut down expenses

One good question to ask is: If you started the same business from scratch, what are the right things you would do and what mistakes would you avoid?

Things to remember

Do not ask questions which are none of your business like ?How much do you make in a month?? Some entrepreneurs are not comfortable sharing those numbers. At least not until they know you well. Also, knowing how much he makes has nothing to do with your business. Instead, you can ask his input on how much you need to invest and how much is a good profit for you in a month and so on.

When you hear the feedback from the entrepreneurs, you will be under the strong influence of confirmation bias. You might turn down useful advice thinking it contradicts with what you had in mind. Try to evaluate the feedback with an open mind.

You do not have to follow the advice given by the entrepreneurs. The point of the exercise is to gain as much knowledge as possible and use your best judgment to decide what to follow and what not to.



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