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Launching a new business? Don’t forget to check you’ve got the customers for it.

So, you’ve got a super-hot idea. An awesome product that’s going to change the world or a service like no other. That’s enough to make a successful business, right? Well, not exactly.

Creating a sustainable, profitable business relies on your ability to be able to sell something, time and time again, to as many people as possible. In order to do that you need to be selling something people want or need. It might sound very simplistic, but it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of believing your own hype, without taking the time to understand whether anyone will buy it. 

Now, I am sure that wouldn’t happen to you, but just in case here some top tips to get your brilliant new business idea off to a flying start.

  1. Define your market

All good marketing starts by being able to demonstrate how you solve a customer’s problem. This means you need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • How many ideal customers exist and is that number enough to make you profitable?
  • How do your ideal customers typically behave and buy?
  • What need to do they have which you can help with?
  • How is their need currently being met?
  • Is there room in the market for another way?

 

Insider tip: Arm yourself with as much information as possible by doing your research. Google is most definitely your friend but also talk to as many potential customers as possible. Don’t rely on the opinion of your friends or family – they are unlikely to be your ‘ideal customer.’ Questionnaires are also a quick and easy way to gain information. Survey Monkey is great tool for doing this – and it’s free!

  1. Understand your unique selling point (USP)

Unless you are creating a brand-new niche, just showing how you meet a customer’s need isn’t enough. You need to show them how you do it better than anyone else out there.  Or, if you can’t do it better, at least show them how you do it differently.

The trick is to look underneath the surface, away from the obvious and make sure whatever you think your USP is, that it aligns to the needs, desires and values of your ideal customer. It might have nothing to do with your product. For example, maybe you share a % of your profits with a charity, or your team volunteers once a month. If your customer’s value social responsibility and have to choose between you and another company who doesn’t do charity work, it’s a no-brainer which way they’re likely to go.

Insider tip: Write down all the reasons why someone should buy from you and put your business name at the top. Now, cover over your business name – could any of your competitors add their logo and say the same? Cross out any they could – what you have left are your USPs

  1. Explore your business model

When you define your market, also look at whether your ideals customers can afford you. It sounds obvious but you would be surprised how many businesses launch without thinking about this and never sell a bean.

Taking the time to really understand your ideal customer and their situation will inform decisions around your business model. For example, there’s been a big rise in subscription models in the last couple of years. Perfect for customers where cash flow may be tricky, pay monthly models potentially open you up to an even broader marker who might not otherwise be able to afford you. Offers things like ‘try before you buy’ also help, giving people a chance to experience your value before they commit (and probably making then much more likely to do so!).

If I can leave you with one final bit of advice it’s to test, test and test again. Your business is a moveable feast that needs to bend and stretch with what your customers need and what they are prepared to pay for it. It’s not to say you should spend years gaining all this insight, more that you should do the basics upfront and then keep asking your customers the questions, evolving what you do and how you do as you go. This way you can make sure you are always relevant.

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