Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Researching Your Business Idea in the Connected Age

Most entrepreneurs aren't interested in beating around the bush once they've gotten an idea in their heads. They want to get it underway posthaste with business finance from crowdfunding. This is understandable if the idea is something new that will meet with little competition at the present, but may enter a highly competitive market in the near future.

More than one person may dream of an invention or new type of service at almost the same moment in time, and attempting to get a patent may be problematic without a working prototype. While this may seem to be an excellent reason to get investors involved immediately with crowdfunding, it misses one of the most powerful parts of the social network - research.

Throughout history, most great ideas have benefited from the collective knowledge of many. We like to believe that some of the big names in business were self-made by their individual efforts, but that is generally not the case. Thomas Edison has been credited with more patents than any other person has, and he has always been portrayed as a tireless worker who hardly slept at all.

While Edison was a genius at taking things and improving them, he did not always carry an idea from concept to conclusion. Instead, he had a dedicated group that worked out the technical aspects of his and their ideas. The belief that he worked all the time was due to his peculiar habit of taking naps wherever he was when he got sleepy, an indication of dedication.

This use of other skillful people to test concepts and work out problems with his inventions is not a detriment to a great man; quite the reverse, it shows how he utilized every means at his disposal to aid in research so he could be more productive. It was not a new concept back then, and it is still widely used today.

Your social network is more than a basis for crowdfunding; it is one of the best research tools you can use. How you present information has a great deal to do with the input you receive from your support group. Network platforms include websites such as FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and MySpace just to name a few, and they are a great way to assist with the development and implementation of your crowdfund project.

Here are some ideas on how to get the most response from those in your personal and business network to benefit your crowdfund research.

1. Pinpoint the Best Places for Research Information

We have learned through experience that some social media are better than others for getting certain information. FaceBook may have some limitations based on the way you get participation and the rules you must follow, but 71% of companies worldwide have a FaceBook account.

That is too big an audience to pass up. Twitter commands almost 50% of those companies, and LinkedIn is the contact medium for the professional sector. Each one of these platforms has something to offer in the way of research.

Did you know that 43% of the businesses in the world have a company blog used for marketing? Much of what you need to know is readily available if you take the time to find it. The best way to make the right contacts is to join groups that fall in line with products or services you are attempting to crowdfund. Many of these groups may be representative of those companies with whom you will compete in the marketplace. The concept is to gather pertinent information, and the competition can be a wealth of knowledge.

The top 10 social networks represent 80% of the traffic for social networks, and users are spending more time on social networks than ever before. User participation in niche networks is increasing very fast, up almost 50% from last year. This is an ideal situation for you when you need to obtain raw research results.

Don't spread yourself too thin by participating in every group, but be selective and only take on what you can input into regularly.

2. Involve Your Audience

Whether your crowdfund idea is one that lends itself to a specific South African location or is more globally oriented has little to do with the interest of the person reading about it. What makes someone want to respond is a subject that is interesting and open enough to leave room for an opinion, and that is what you want when doing crowdfund research.

Make very sure you clarify that you want any positive or negative comments that might make the idea more viable and successful once it is put into motion. In the same vein, be sure to point out that you value the opinion of each person, which builds the foundation for investing in the crowdfund.

3. Start the Crowdfund with the Research

By involving the social network audience through their opinion, you have already planted the seed for investment opportunity. Instead of losing that momentum, go ahead and solicit for seed funding at the same time you are doing research. In this way, investors feel they are providing input that will improve the idea, making it more desirable to put money into the cause.

Incorporating both opinion and solicitation into one package also shortens the time between inception and the start of an enterprise. The sooner you start, the less chance there is that someone else will profit from the idea before you can get it underway. If you plan to use a professional crowdfunding organization, make certain that they are aware of your intent to both fine-tune your idea and get funding at the same time. This is not a new concept in the crowdfund process.

4. Use Your Research Results

Use the information you gather from your social networks by taking your own opinion out of it. It is entirely possible that you won't completely like what you find out from research, but it is a tool to guide you. The success of most products or services depends on the opinions of the public, so you must believe there is substance to back up your social networking research.

Most marketing experts don't believe that you can base everything on research through social media. While it may be necessary to revert to more traditional research methods in some cases, you should gauge highly what you learn from the support you receive and use it to your advantage.

In Conclusion

You may find that an idea is not drawing the amount of interest you expected. The opinions you receive may enlighten you to the fact that further study is necessary before proceeding with a venture or that some adjustments need to be made.

This is, after all, the primary reason for research. If you cannot find the support you want, it is good to weigh responses and apply those concepts constructively to a new format of the same idea or scrap the plan entirely.

Another tip to keep in mind is if you are receiving the same input from several contacts in your research, there is most likely some substance to it that will assist you in your crowdfunding project. That makes it important to listen and analyze comments, both good and bad.

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