Are You on the Right Track? Test, Test and Test Some More.

If there is one thing I have learned in this new chapter of my life as an entrepreneur, it is that I know even less than I thought I did about business. I’m a huge believer in instinct and having a vision. I also believe that rock solid strategies and high level planning are vital. All of that being said, you don’t have jack squat until you roll it out there, take off the training wheels and expose it.

I am very blessed to have a couple amazing business mentors, and one of the repetitive themes I have noticed them pass down to me is the importance of testing. You test your new products, you test your marketing campaigns, you test your team members and so much more. Why? Because you rarely know the answer. You may have a hunch or an intuition about what demographic is going to be buying your product and when. You might believe that your new product line up is going to crush it. You also just know that the initial price point you are offering up on your new line is well within the suggested retail price for your customers. You might be blown away by the conference call you just got off with this hot new SEO firm that was just highly recommended to you. These are just a few of the issues that we are all currently dealing with. Unfortunately, there is only one way to know for sure. Test it!

If you are like me and have a ton of weaknesses, then there are going to be certain things you will not be able to test by yourself. At some point, you will have to bring in outsiders to test out many of the operations and systems in place at your business. This can often be scary and embarrassing, exposing yourself and your ignorance to their specialty, but it is absolutely necessary to improve and make gains. While they are testing your stuff, guess what you are doing? You are testing them. You are fact-checking their analysis. Are they being honest, or are they telling you what you want to hear? Test them.

This testing can be as easy as moving that marketing post from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the evening or lowering your price point from $39.99 to $34.99. We have seen major improvements with very minor changes. Sometimes it is changing up the header in your email blast. It might mean postponing your launch date of a new product until you have worked out that final bug.

Would you like to know who else is great at helping you test? Your customers are! Create a poll. Ask them what they think. Ask them how you can improve it. Ask them what they would pay for it. It works but only if you test it.

At the end of the day, this all starts with a little self-awareness and some humility. You have to look yourself in the mirror and say, “You know what, I’m really not 100 percent sure about this. Let me do some testing to see what produces ROI.”

Often, we are our own biggest enemies when it comes to the success of our products, our strategies and our businesses. We start to think for just a second that we know what we are doing and become rigid. I know I have been guilty of it.

The bottom line is this: Stay humble, be flexible and keep on testing.

Written by Eli Crane for Entrepreneur magazine.

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