If most people you talk to think your startup idea is bad, how do you know whether they are right or wrong? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Bernie Klinder, Entrepreneur, Consultant, Investor, on Quora:

The value of the opinions of people who are critical of your startup really depends on who you are talking to.

  • Are these potential customers, or just friends and family?
    • Friends and family may not see the potential in an idea if they can't picture themselves as a customer.
    • Do you have an accurate picture of who your customer is? Age? Income? Interests?
    • Do you really understand why someone would want your product/service? What problem does it solve? How many people have that problem? Is it a nice to have product, or a must have product?
    • Are the 2/10 people you are asking who liked your idea just being nice, or would they be genuinely interested in your product? Would they seriously buy from you?
  • Why do the critics think it's a bad idea?
    • Does the product not make sense to them?
    • Is the idea just not fully "baked"?
    • Did they provide suggestions for improvement?
    • Have you thought through the accounting math: cost of goods, overhead, marketing, etc.? Can you actually be profitable, or are there things you are missing?
  • Do have a demo product, or is it all theoretical?
    • Can you put a minimum viable product together?
    • How smooth is your demo? Do people instantly "get" your product, or does it take them a while?

Also keep in mind, that your idea maybe good, but the way you're pitching your idea that is flawed. I can imagine the reaction to early pitches for Uber, YouTube, Vine, Snapchat, Twitter, selfie-sticks, and hundreds of other now successful businesses. I wouldn't even think of giving up unless you have talked to at least 100 qualified people: people that would actually be potential customers. Get their feedback. If they say they are not interested, find out why. Be inquisitive, and not defensive. You can learn the most from your toughest critics. Vetting your idea and getting support from potential customers, investors, partners, and others is an iterative and often experimental process - and so is entrepreneurship. Lots of startup ideas changed dramatically before they got it right.

On your journey as an entrepreneur, this is your first hurdle - one of many. Don't let doubt kill your dream. Work on really refining your idea, and determine for yourself if the critics have some valid points. Be persistent in your efforts, but realize you may have to go back to the drawing board and make adjustments as you go. There is no shame in that - it's part of the process.

Remember, in the end the only people that you really have to convince that this a good idea is your customers. They'll tell you pretty quick if you're right.

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Published on: Apr 26, 2017