12A Magnet Needs a Market

It Seemed Like Such a Good Idea at the Time

Whether you're considering starting a new business or expanding your existing business, there are obvious but often overlooked factors that will be key in determining your success or failure. Rarely, if ever, is any business idea a sure thing, and I've got plenty of personal experience in launching ideas that sank like rocks thrown into a pond.

Picture this: You've come up with an idea for the best magnet ever. Everyone tells you that your magnet will be able to pull metal of all kinds from long distances. Your magnet will be absolutely covered up.

You finish your magnet, put it on a table with metal balls and shavings all around, and…nothing. They are so close that they are almost touching your magnet but nothing is making the slightest move toward it.

In spite of all the planing and enthusiasm and passion that you poured into your magnet, it doesn't work. It's disappointing and sometimes bewildering, because it seemed like such a good idea at the time.

As I said, I've got my own versions of that scenario that have played out in my career. Years ago I launched an entirely new division of my business that featured me, paired up with a business expert, to do two-man presentations on popular business topics to corporate events and meetings.

I thought I had properly scoped out the potential market simply by asking friends in the business who would be typical buyers of the concept. The problem is, they were my ...

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