Are you stuck in research analysis mode?
I wanted to do this short conversation to give you some ideas if you are stuck in research mode. If you find yourself going to a lot of events, trying to read everything, listening to everything but still not feeling comfortable to start selling, you need to tune in.
Who am I?
I’m Malla. I’m a business coach and speaker. I focus on helping people uncover what they don’t know that they don’t know about running a small business successfully.
I’ve been doing this work now for a number of years. My real joy and happiness is supporting underestimated entrepreneur find their value and monetize their talents. So today’s topic is near and dear to my heart.
Why I choose today’s topic – It happens more than you realize
I was talking with one of my students in my classes recently, and she shared that she’d been caught in this space of research mode.
She didn’t feel confident about starting her business. It felt really like there were still a few bells and whistles “missing”. She is not alone as I’ve heard this dozens of times before.
Why we have this hidden tendency
Blame it on school. It is the way we are taught to learn. There’s a huge value that’s placed on doing the research and doing your homework.
And there is value in that.
Also, if you are have experience in professional environments or you are an underestimated entrepreneur you probably have this tendency. Why? You deal with ALOT of situations. A lot of situations that those that don’t have to deal with the isms – the racisms, the sexisms, the ableism, all the isms that exist out there – they don’t have to encounter those conversations. So of course, you’re always second guessing yourself. Because you are always trying to filter and figure out, well, should I go this way? Or should I go that way?
So first and foremost, I just want to honor those of you who fall into the category or being underestimated. But we also have to find ways to take action and stop overanalyzing.
First tool – Are you doing the RIGHT research?
When I”m with an entrepreneur in pre-start-up mode and they have only earned e a couple of dollars or they have no legal structure, one thing that I’m going to recommend for those individuals is
Who exactly is your customer?
And I know, I know we hear this all the time. Like who is your target customer. Who are you marketing to? Who is your person? But I’m just going to emphasize it. There’s huge truth for a lot of people that are just getting started with their businesses.
For the businesses who are already running, it’s nuanced: What do the people actually need? What are they willing to pay for? What are the problems that they need solved? And when you’re first getting started to answer that question, it can seem pretty overwhelming.
[5:00] You won’t get this research “right” the first time
What I often see when I share this in my 40+ hour entrepreneurship programs
People hear this idea and they’re like, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s nice. That’s nice. I need to go interview people. I need to go talk to them about what problems they’re having, where I could be of service, or I could be of help to solve this particular issue. And they hear me and they always are like Yeah, I’ll get to that.
I still want to do what it is that I want to do.
My own story of interviewing
Y’all let me tell you how real this advice is! It was the beginning of the pandemic and I was set up to have a pretty darn good year. I had a number of contracts and opportunities on the table for speaking and training.
When the shutdown hit,I was stuck,. People were either putting a pause on their contracts, which is promising but open ended. Or cancelling.
There was no clarity when things were going to change.
So here’s what I did. I followed my own advice. I tried to call as many different current and former clients as I possibly could. I wasn’t perfect but I took action
- What support do you need?
- What help do you need?
- What are the problems?
This was the key question I kept asking. And low and behold, even in the pandemic – because every time that there’s massive issues going on – there’s massive opportunity, right? Even in the middle of the pandemic, there was a huge open lane. Alot of speakers were not familiar with how to do programs online. And lo and behold, I had worked with a client for a couple of years where we had done half of a 60 hour program virtually.
So I already had a track record. I could say – Hey, I can be that support for your business.
Now, it’s a given that speakers know how to be able to do things virtually. But back then it wasn’t. And heck I would even argue now it’s not a given because everyone’s complaining that there’s a lack of engagement. And, I knew back then, I know how to be able to engage audiences with different topics that I focus on.
I got the opportunity to do work that wasn’t even in my wheelhouse. Topics that I wouldn’t necessarily name as my strengths. But because I was able to help these clients solve their problems, we were all willing to take a chance and see if this was going to be a fit.
Don’t skimp and do fill in the blank surveys
There’s huge value in doing survey. I love when companies ask for surveys at the end of a customer experience.
But the real way you want to do this is as you want to dig into some of the questions that are underneath the surface.
- What’s the real reason why you buy from me?
- What’s your motivation?
- What’s underlying about why you trust me?
- What are the problems that other companies are not tapping into?
[10:00] You cannot go wrong by learning more about your people
Second Tool – Start testing small solutions right away
That was the advice that I gave the student. She felt that she was doing so much research and didn’t know where to take action.
You have a big dream and goal for your business. I’m here for it. But you, and I both know it’s going to take years possibly to get this business up off the ground. So in the interim, why not solve a little part of the problem that you’re dealing with, right?
Here’s how you start
Your customers are dealing with this giant thing that they want to work on. You figure out one small part of that conversation.
And listen, by the way, a lot of times that’s where you really need the support of a coach. Or you need the support of a group of entrepreneurs, because if you are probably hearing the problem but don’t know what to be able to tackle first. A second set of eyes can help you figure out what that thing is.
But don’t try to create this like giant business out of it. Test the thing out.
Here’s how I use it in my business
I do this in my business on a regular basis. I’ll talk to different groups and say,
- Hey, what are the topics that you’re interested in?
- What do you want additional trainings on?
- What do you want additional coaching on?
Sometimes I use a poll. Sometimes, I advertise for an event that I haven’t even put the event together.
Because I’m testing.
I want to pre determine “Is that really something that my audience wants?”
if it is, awesome. Let’s dive in.
If it doesn’t solve a problem, that’s okay. It’s just information. It’s more research. I don’t see it as a complete defeat.
- Maybe I didn’t have the right angle on how I shared it with the audience.
- Maybe I didn’t do enough work around the marketing
There could be a host of reasons why something doesn’t work. But I challenge you before you invest a ton of money and time in launching a new business or new offering, take a step back. Pick something that you can get started with a couple hundred bucks. Something where you can test and listen. It’s fine to let people know that it’s a beta. It doesn’t have to be fully perfected. And sometimes betas are better than the actual product.
This step will help you get out of research mode. You test it by doing a small event or something one time for a limited time. There’s a number of different ways of testing.
Don’t make this mistake
I can recall years that I invest a ton of time – putting together the deck, putting together the worksheets, putting together all this information for the workshop, and then I would just keep researching, researching, and never launch it.
Do the reverse. Put it out there and see if people are interested. Now, heads up. If you put it out there and people are interested, you’re going to have to work double time to fulfill it.
[15:00] But there’s a big difference in doing that when you know that there’s interest or you are just hoping that they love your idea.
Get the support that you need around making those “mistakes” so that you don’t get stuck. And I know that if you leverage that information, that’s where you’re going to see more sales wins.