When you first start out in business for yourself, it’s so exciting to get everything set up. You choose a name for your company, you set up your website and social media platforms, you pick out a color scheme, and you decide what you’re going to offer to your audience. Best of all, you’re finally escaping the 9-to-5 grind… or, you’re starting on the path towards that. It’s only a matter of time.
After a couple of months of being “open”, and doing promotion and other things you’re supposed to do as a self-employed business owner, you start to get discouraged because, for all of your efforts, you’re mostly hearing crickets… maybe you got a little bit of interest, but it’s been nowhere near the fanfare (or income) that you’d expected.
What’s the deal? Are you just not cut out for this whole entrepreneurship thing? Are you just not trying hard enough?
Here’s a hint: Go back and re-read the first paragraph of this post, and notice the word that appears (in two versions), over and over throughout. Did you catch it?
That’s the problem. It’s been all about you. In actuality, “your” business is supposed to be all about …them.
Who are they?
“They” are your audience and potential customers. Without them, you’ll never have a business, but only have a hobby. Because, they are the ones who are supposed to be paying for your offerings.
Doesn’t it make sense, then, that it should be all about them?
So, let’s come at this from this new perspective. Let’s go back to the beginning and put this together with our audience in the spotlight.
START WITH WHY
In this book (and TED talk), “Start With Why“, Simon Sinek talks about how the most successful brands (eg. Apple, Inc.) don’t start with what they offer, but instead, why they’re offering it. The reason for this is because we, as consumers, shop first based on our emotional response — and then we justify our decisions with logic. It therefore makes sense to start by thinking about why you’re offering this particular product or service, and why your audience needs it. Also, why did you decide to get into this particular business?
Next, you’re going to need to think about who needs what you’ve got to offer. Whose problem aligns with why you feel compelled to be an entrepreneur?
After all, that’s what business is all about — solving the problems others have, and getting paid to do so. It’s an exchange of value.
The tricky part, here, is finding a balance between who has a problem you can solve, but also who fits the profile of someone you’d most like to work with, or serve.
Depending on your business model, this second bit may or may not matter. For example, if you’re opening a retail store, perhaps the customer’s personality type isn’t going to matter; whereas, if you’re offering a service like coaching others on-on-one (or, even in a group setting), it’s going to matter a great deal whether or not you and your customer get along!
This topic needs far more depth than I have the space to go into, in this post, so I’ll do another post about it at a later date (or, you can dig into this more through my self-coaching guides).
Simon Sinek also says that “customers don’t buy what you do; they buy why and how“.
So, the next question you need to ask yourself is this: How will my product or service help my audience get what they want? How will it solve their most pressing problem?
Notice that you’re not yet touching on what the customer needs. They may not even know, yet, what they truly need. All they do know is that they have this problem, and they want relief… they want it solved.
So, answer the question they’re really asking, which is, “what’s in it for me?” How can you (your product/service) solve their problem?
Finally, you’ll need to come up with what you can offer that answers all of the above questions. To recap:
- Why are you offering this, and why does your audience need it?
- Who needs what you’ve got to offer?
- How does it benefit them? (What’s in it for them?)
There are other questions you’ll need to answer, of course (like how you’ll offer these solutions, what you’ll charge, etc).
The key, though, is to always keep your customer at the forefront of your mind in everything you do throughout “your” business.
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How has this post opened your eyes to changes you could make in your business set-up or thinking? Let me know in the comments.