A few days ago, I was perusing the conversations on the Black Business Women Online social networking site. Led by LaShanda Henry, BBWO is a social network for women entrepreneurs of color and professional black women interested in learning how to start a business and build relationships. As I scrolled through the pages, I was surprised to discover that I am featured as a New Market Maker in the Spring 2011 issue of of LaShanda's online magazine. Here's a screen shot of the two pages I'm featured on.
The feature links to some of my most popular small business leadership and personal development success articles. You can download download your free issue of the publication at this link. (You will have to join the social site to snag a copy!) Over the years, I have helped so many people uncover the confidence and ideas they need to become New Market Markers. Here are a few tips to get you started!
- What's missing in your life? Most New Market Makers start by looking at their lives and thinking about what they need that is not being provided by someone else. When I quit my job to start a cosmetics business, the first thing I did was join the Personal Care Products Council (then known as the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrances Association). When I saw that they really didn't focus on small companies, I created the INDIE Beauty Network, one of the first for-profit trade organizations in the nation. Today, IBN serves hundreds of small manufacturers of soaps, cosmetics, candles, fragrances, aromatherapy products and confectionery items.
Other examples of New Market Makers include Megan Calhoun of Social Moms (formerly TwitterMoms), Tamara Monosoff of Mom Inventors, and of course La Shanda Henry of BBWO. Like me, these women needed something in their own lives. When they saw that no one else offered it, they created it themselves. Love it!
- Test out your new idea. Use FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn your blog and other media outlets to ask people in your sphere of influence what they think of your new market idea, and what they would like to see you do. Of course you'll poll people familiar with the industry, but don't omit people from other industries. Some of your best feedback will come from people who can be more objective because the know little to nothing about the details of the industry you will be entering. Collect this information over a period of time and use it to create the product or service you plan to offer.
You may consider asking people to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect your ideas while you are formulating them. This is a business decision you have to make based on how much time you need to launch, the type of people you ask (the more trustworthy, the better), and the nature of your idea. While confidentiality is important before launch, I caution you to get your idea out there as quickly as possible. If it's a really good idea, chances are good that someone else may have already thought of it and could be in mid-launch too! New Market Makers don't allow grass to grow under their feet!
- Create a prototype for soft launch. Once you have enough feedback to put together a working platform, launch a scaled down version of your new product or service and see how people respond. Make changes quickly as people provide feedback and new ideas. Tweak as you go.
New Market Makers are not uncomfortable with this sort of public beta launch. More and more, it's how business is done today. Do a scaled down launch and use real-time feedback to expand your concepts slowly.
While IBN is the biggest project I've ever launched, it's not the only one. Some, like my INDIE Business Podcast launched in 2005, remain successful today, while others have flopped or are still in the process of being launched. That's the nature of the beast and New Market Makers don't let it slow them down.
As you move through your soft launch, new ideas will come at you in rapid-fire sequence. Don't become bogged down with every single thing. Pursue the best and ditch the rest, and soon, you'll be a New Market Maker too!
Question: Are you a New Market Maker? Tell us about what you have done!! We love to learn from your experiences!