It was a very weird experience, sitting in front of a class full of students from my old school. OK, it was a long long time ago since I sat in its drab and dusty classrooms and we were sitting in Campus North rather than the school itself yet it was still an odd experience. I would not say that my school days were unhappy, far from it yet I don’t always look back on them with fond regard. The more I think about it, even then I was rebelling against the constricted and confined environment that the education system is built around. Even then I craved freedom.
It is perhaps odd that I chose to put myself up to such an ordeal yet the chance to help a class of students develop some business ideas was appealing. The chance to help out at Campus North is always a bonus as well. Unfortunately though, due to a clash of diaries I was only able to stay for a little while.
I was there long enough to hear the students ideas and to realise that they had fallen into a couple of the most basic of traps when trying to start out in business. Schoolboy (and girl) errors. I know because I have made them myself. I still do.
The first was to steam ahead with a brilliant idea without actually testing it in your potential market. You can have the most fantastic product in the world yet it will be of no use if people do not want to pay for it. Getting an idea of demand and the price that it will bear is essential before you over commit yourself to your grand scheme. The best way to find out is by asking.
The second was to apply your own prejudices to your customers. They were considering an app and wanted to develop it in iOS only even though Android still has 86% of the global market share. You must remember that you are trying to sell your product not to buy it yourself. This is a common mistake often made by the contestants of competition shows such as Bargain Hunt or Homes Under the Hammer, where people buy what they like and redecorate in their own taste.
I offered them my wisdom but was unable to stick around to see if they absorbed it. At least I had the opportunity to remind myself of these two important lessons.