The importance of early interviews can’t be overstated. Hidden in these conversations are the clues you need to piece together your startup puzzle. These clues will either confirm that you’re on the right track, or save you years of unnecessary struggle.
It’s important to know how to listen when investigating your idea. The point of interviewing prospective customers is not to impress people with your knowledge or sell them on your idea. Instead, you need to get candid and honest feedback. Entrepreneurs have a lot of trouble taking off their sales hat, which can result in useless, biased feedback. If you ask leading questions, you’ll get loaded answers. Biasing your interviews is one of the easiest and most damaging mistakes you can make.
Turn off your charm and be as boring and dispassionate as possible. Act as if you couldn’t care less. The less people think you care, the more likely you are to get honest feedback. You might even go so far as to say that you’re doing some research for a friend. Play dumb and see what people say. Let them be the experts and encourage them to educate you. People will open up and be much more helpful.