Cart Before Horse

Market research for your retirement venture.

Henry Ford has famously been attributed with the quote:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

(Although whether he ever actually wrote or uttered those words is now considered unlikely).

But the point is that a successful businessman, Henry Ford, is cited as evidence that asking customers what they want isn’t a fruitful exercise.

Hold on a minute, wouldn’t the intelligent questioner glean from such a customer response that they want to get from A to B more quickly?

If enough people all responded similarly, that they would value getting about more quickly then we are onto something. That “something”, the potential solution isn’t just constrained to the provision of steroid-enhanced or genetically modified horses that are faster, but extends to all means of getting from A to B more quickly.

A key early part of establishing whether your proposed new business is likely to be on to something is asking about the issues that potential customers face, broadly within the sphere of their lives that you are interested in. Not questions like “do you like this (my offering)” or “what would you improve about this (example product)”.

No, go back a step to “what things are an issue to you in getting from A to B”. Don’t offer up your solution for comment in advance of understanding what the potential customers view as “a pain”.

Because that would be putting the cart before the horse!