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Amanda McCormick

How to Question Your Assumptions

By February 5, 2013

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A few stories in the press over the past week caught my attention and got me to thinking about assumptions.

For one thing, an NPR story on hand dryers: revealed opportunity in an unexpected place:

George Campbell, who used to work for Dyson, now sells hand dryers of all brands through his Chicago company, NetDryers. Using government data, the company tried to measure the potential market for hand dryers.

"There's roughly 30 million bathrooms away from home in the United States," Campbell says. "Paper towels alone, without hand dryers, are probably in around 90-95 percent of those bathrooms."

That means there are well over 25 million bathrooms that are potential hand dryer installations.

That's a great example of an entrepreneur doing his homework!

Other companies use technology to disrupt traditional industries -- and capture cash that might otherwise have been left on the table. This story about apps that help you hail taxis or rent a room through the service Airbnb caught my attention.

In the case of disruptive companies like Uber, the founders could see that there was money to be made in decreasing inefficiencies in the system (i.e., empty cabs during peak times). Airbnb created a new market for people who (like me) actually prefer not to stay in a hotel.

All of these stories are about people who craftily questioned assumptions, and built successful business models.

How good are you at questioning your own assumptions?

Is there a need for your product or service?

Is there a significant customer base?

Can this business turn a profit?

Are you the right person to run this business?

Is your business funded appropriately?

Get tips on testing your assumptions here.

Read: Question Key Assumptions in Your Business Plan

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