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Even if your business is doing well, that you’ve started recruiting people, etc., you’re going to have to try a lot of new things in order to break into new markets, develop new products, test your rates…

Testing your market before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship


Solenne Niedercorn-Desouches

Non-Executive Director and Senior Advisor in FinTech/VC, podcast host


Starting with a failure

I have no problem saying that my entrepreneurial project flopped back in 2017. It was part of my learning process. Sure, I didn’t come out of it unscathed. It can have very serious consequences if you plan it wrong from the start, or if you take too many risks. You have to remain somewhat cautious, keep your family in mind. Sometimes, it can be worth starting your project on the side. People don’t realize that they have much more time than they
are willing to believe. You can absolutely begin some projects on the side if you want to start by giving it a try.


Analyzing failure and drawing lessons from it

You have to know when to stop. And you have to understand what didn’t work. There is nothing worse than staying stuck on a failure. You need to get over it through analyzing what went right, what went wrong, what you learned from it, etc. You have to remain level-headed and neutral towards it. Don’t take it personally and don’t start questioning everything.


The importance of product‑market fit

Launching a startup and starting a consulting business, for instance, are two entirely different things. When you start as a consultant, you know that there is a need for your services. Usually, you already have a client pipeline that you’ve identified from the start. So, this is what you would call a “go-to market”, and it’s much easier to navigate than when you launch a new product on a market you have to break into. So, when you’re launching a startup, the moment you feel that you’re on the right path is the moment you find your product‑market fit. And you’ll really feel it. I see that all the time with the startups I work with. There’s a moment where you feel that things are moving. Like you’re working in a mine and you find a vein and decide to keep digging through it. That’s exactly how it goes.


Readjusting as often as necessary

You have to readjust as often as necessary in order to find your clients, among other things. And for your offer to really match a market need.


Prioritize clients over product

My job is assisting start-up owners, among others. And when I talk to some of these entrepreneurs, not repeat founders but people who are just starting out, their mistake is often to focus too much on the product and how they’re going to develop it. They’re so focused on the product that they won’t change it for anything in the world. Or sometimes, the way they originally conceived their product makes it hard to change. I always tell these entrepreneurs that they need to constantly be in touch with their clients to really identify the market need. Depending on what your client tells you, you’re going to create a product to meet that need. No matter how pretty your product looks, of course, it’s important to have a nice-looking product, if it doesn’t respond to a market need, you might as well create a product that looks less nice but meets a real need. And only after you’ve done that do you enhance the product, work on it. As you reach new categories of clients, you’ll tweak your product accordingly.


Testing all the time, measuring everything

At the end of the day, you have to tell yourself it’s part of the process, do you know what I mean? And even if your business is doing well, that you’ve started recruiting people, etc., you’re going to have to try a lot of new things in order to break into new markets, develop new products, test your rates… So, you have to be entirely comfortable with this aspect. But you also have to know that if you’re running tests, you need to measure and keep track of everything, because it makes no sense to run tests if you don’t use the data to measure the impact.


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