Try to understand your customer…

Once we have a business idea, we get into sprint mode. We want to put it into practice immediately. So, our primary focus is to quickly develop the product or service we have in mind and launch it. Then we shift fixation to achieving more sales, significant market share and high returns on investment. And along this path paved with inertia, entrepreneurship and expectations, we forget to learn about the persona that drives our revenue: the customer

  • Who is that person, 
  • Why is that person buying our product, 
  • How do they feel about it, and 
  • What do they expect from us?

The customer remains a mystery. And, please don’t get me wrong here; many businesses segment products and markets, but the specificity of their customers’ expectations remain incognito. And that is a problem. Because if you don’t have a solid understanding of your customer, everything else you do is sitting on a crumbling foundation, doesn’t matter how good your business idea might seem. 

As a business grows and reaches middle to a considerable size and develops complexity, the lack of market understanding can lead to constant restructuring and failing intents to improve and optimise to stay competitive. Decision-making becomes an ‘inverted’ exercise based on opinions and politics, not customer expectations. For that reason, many companies have to spend time and money on corrective actions like downsizing, outsourcing, or closing down.

However, if you study the market upfront, understand the customer expectations from the moment you decide to move forward with a business idea, and continuously monitor the market, you will build a successful business. You will have a solid foundation to grow and scale, and sustain

So, I invite you to go back to the basics: review, understand and learn to predict customer expectations. The exercise does not have to be highly complex. If you are just starting your business, one way to learn how can your idea see the light is by asking these fundamental questions:

  • What’s the biggest problem your customer or potential customer is facing right now in the field that you can help?
  • How is this problem affecting them financially, emotionally and timewise?
  • What frustrates them daily, like tasks they hate to do, annoying clients, employees, circumstances…?
  • What do they desire more than anything related to what you can help them achieve?
  • What have they tried already to fix their problem, and why didn’t it work?
  • What do they complain to their family & friends about? (e.g., don’t know what to do, the market is noisy, not enough money, time, circumstances aren’t fair?

These questions won’t give you straight answers to what design, price, and placement are right for you. Instead, they are intended to make you think and discover if there is a market and how would that market react to your idea (templates here)

Moreover, you have to ask yourself, do you want to commit to delivering to that demand? To consistently fulfil your customer expectations?

If you are an already established business, perform customer journey periodically; base your decision-making on the results, not on the “gut feeling” of the expert in turn in your management team.

Starting a business is an easy thing to do. But, growing it and making it profitable is harder. The key is understanding your customer and how they evolve (nothing stands still). If you know that, you will be able to offer what is needed, find your niche, grow and sustain your business or pivot it into a different market positioning if need be😊.