How Many Units Are You Likely to Sell

The answer to this is the big one. Treat scaled up numbers with caution. What perhaps is most useful is the feel of the overall response. Are there, for instance, enough potential customers who are really keen on the product? Or do you sense that you are going to be in for heavy selling? Is the program a marginal one? Or will it in some significant way change their lives? Don't place too much faith in your personal powers to overcome the odds. When you are up against a host of other people, force of personality can only carry you so far. On the other hand, sheer guts and persistence have been known to turn a marginally difficult sales situation into a viable one, particularly when it is associated with an intelligent marketing strategy.

Reasons for a poor response to this question may by as obvious as someone has got there before you; or it may be subtle. Your idea may be ahead of its time and buyers feel unable to cope. If they think there will be a lot of new things to grasp they will almost certainly stick with what they already know and have. Whatever the explanation for the negatives, you need a second opinion. Talk the situation through with your friends or colleagues. Listen particularly to those who have both IT experience and sound judgment. If you haven't any such friends, consult a market research company. Offer to buy an hour of their time to help you interpret the facts. Nothing would be worse than making the wrong decision (whether to persevere or to stop) with all the information in your hand.

If the appeal verdict is another thumbs down, take a deep breath, and explain to your backers what has come up that is making your project unviable. And don't forget to tell those closest to you.

You will know almost immediately if shutting down the project is the right thing to do. If it is, you will regret deeply having to abandon all hope, but you will surprisingly feel better. You are being responsible. You are doing the mature thing. You are acting in the best interests of the entire project team. However disappointed they also feel, they will respect you for not going blithely on and gambling with their futures. Take some comfort from the thought that it's the soldier who doesn't get into a losing fight that survives. Sooner or later, you will likely have another, better idea that will succeed. And it is the one you win that really counts.

In the interim, there may be consolations. You'll know better how to go about developing software. You know who you would want to invite back on your team. You may even be able to sell components of your closed-down project.

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