Market research the right way.

How should you market research so you don't just get the answers people think you want to hear? Entrepreneur, Startup Awards finalist, and member of telecoms firm Telefonica’s Wayra startup accelerator scheme, Erika Brodnock gives us her tips on collecting useful data to improve your product or service.

It can be tough making it in Startup Land. Increasingly I've seen those I would consider great teams, fail!  As I learn, survive to fight another day and grow my business I also try to decipher what makes that possible.
In my last post, I spoke of tenacity and drive being fundamental to success (read it here). So mindset check, and once the mindset is right, what next?
Ensuring you have a product that people want and need is pretty key. Some of the key lessons I've learned along the way is that given the opportunity people will lie to you. Not because they want to or even mean to, but because they want to protect you - just as a parent protects their child with little white lies about how wonderful their drawing of yet another unidentifiable object is when asked 'Do you like my picture?' or as partners protect their significant others when that all important 'Does my bum look big in this?' question rears its head! We've all been there and no-one wants to be the one that shatters someone's illusion of themselves or what they want to be..
The common ground in the questions above is they were both loaded and leading. All manner of hope was rested and expressed in the way the question was posed and it takes a brave individual to say what they really think in such situations.
Applied to a startup, questions such as would you buy 'x' or how much would you be willing to pay for 'y' will lead you nowhere other than to a product that will sit and wait for all the people who said they'd buy it to appear, while no one actually does.
Finding true pain and price points are the jobs of stealth ninjas primed to extract accurate information. Failure to find the right pain point and therefore build the right solution equals a sudden and often painful startup death so it's imperative to get it right as early as possible.
I was a year into running Karisma Kidz before we started asking the right questions and getting accurate answers and within a few months of doing so I iterated our offering and landed our first major deal with KD Interactive to pre-load onto the Kurio tablets. 
We've continued to ask questions, listen to feedback and iterate - with astonishing results. In that last month we've won two awards which saw the public vote accord us the victory. (Read Erika's post about awards and how to win them).
I found the books The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick and Teach yourself Market Research in a Week by Judy Bartkowiak invaluable resources in building ninja prowess. I also had the privilege of watching Julia Shalet in action as she demonstrated how to run an effective customer interview in a session at the Mobile Academy. 
It's such an integral part of a startups business that it makes sense investing the time and effort to get it right.
Here’s to building Ninja Prowess… May the force be with you!

erika-(1).png Erika Brodnock, who recently won Smarta100's Female Entrepreneur of the Year, writes for Club about the trial, tribulations and joys of setting up her own business (read her posts here)She is the founder of Karisma Kidz, which aims to teach children social and emotional skills through a mix of physical toys and digital games. Follow her on Twitter @karismakidz and visit the Karisma Kidz website.