Have you ever been shocked to realize that something you once thought of as the truth, something you’d been led to believe your entire life, was a complete falsehood?

Most of us can cite hundreds of examples. Santa isn’t real. The earth is round. Some fat is actually good for you. Boomers rock. All shockers — all true.

Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” describes the painful passage to realization beautifully. It’s about people with entrenched beliefs who stumble out of the darkness of a cave (their current beliefs) into the light, and see the true nature of things.

This is what research does for our business. Not doing research (and acting on assumptions) is a sure-fire way to ensure failure. It takes a lot of courage to leave that darkness voluntarily. I’ve worked with too many businesses who prefer to keep the blinders on, costing them millions.

According to research conducted by Attest, a market research firm, 26 percent of businesses surveyed said they do not conduct any research prior to launching a new product or service. Thirty-five percent said that research was irrelevant and 21 percent said they couldn’t afford it. And 91 percent of respondents said they didn’t understand the buying behaviors of millennials, and don’t know how to go about it.

Today, there is a multitude of new technologies and resources that make it possible to conduct research affordably and with a depth of insight. But that doesn’t mean that one time-honored technique is out of date. It’s called, “talking to people.”

We don’t do it enough, having a chat with the people who matter to the success of our business. Asking a consumer, “Why do you buy,” and “How do you choose?” are questions you should be asking before you start a business and as often as you can after you’ve opened the doors.

As you begin your planning for the coming year, consider talking to the target audiences whose buying behavior baffles you most. This will help you to put aside the assumptions you’ve been making in how they think, what drives their behavior and what pleases them.