The task can be a challenge at any stage of a business, but it’s particularly challenging to find the ideal customer for a new business. New entrepreneurs struggle it this all the time. After all, how can you identify your most perfect customer when you don’t have any customers yet?
In this article, I’m going to make it a little easier for you to get totally clear about your ideal customer – especially when you’re just starting out.
I’m an expert in this area and in this article, I want to help make it a little easier for you to get totally clear about your ideal customer – even if you’re just starting out.
If you’re here because you’ve already taken the plunge and launched a new business, here’s a secret – you already know your ideal customer!
The first thing I want you to do is to take a few minutes to jot down your business’s mission statement. A mission statement is the foundation of a company or organization. It’s the raison d’etre, so to speak.
“A mission statement defines what an organization is, why it exists, its reason for being.” — Entrepreneur Magazine
Your mission statement helps you stay grounded and not lose sight of why you took the dive in the first place. It’s also a key ingredient to help you get clear about your ideal customer.
3 Clues To Find The Ideal Customer For Your New Business
When it comes to creating ideal customer prototypes, every new business owner I’ve ever worked with fell into one of these three categories:
1. Your Ideal Customer Is You
A need in your own life was unmet (or current solutions were subpar), and you said to yourself, “if I need this, there must be a ton of other people who need it, too.”
“Ideas for products or services with ample demand often come to people when they are inconvenienced in their own day-to-day lives and realize that they could fill a void or make an already-existing product or service more efficient or convenient. For example, if you wonder, “Why do I have to drive 20 minutes to reach the nearest bakery?” or “Wouldn’t it be great if I could get my groceries delivered right to my door?”
A great example is Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. Sara founded Spanx in 2000 and in just a few short years, she was named the world’s youngest, self-made female billionaire by Forbes Magazine and one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People.
Here is Sara’s story (from the Spanx website):
“SPANX founder Sara Blakely was getting ready for a party when she realized she didn’t have the right undergarment to provide a smooth look under white pants. Armed with scissors and sheer genius, she cut the feet off her control top pantyhose, and the SPANX revolution began! SPANX has secured its place in women’s hearts and in pop-culture with daily mentions everywhere from CNN to SNL.”
Sara Blakely’s story is an example of a new business that was launched to solve a problem its founder had in her own life. She was her ideal customer. As she discovered, there were millions of customers out there just like her.
Today, Spanx generates over $250 million in annual revenue.
2. Your Ideal Customer is Someone You Know
The mission for your new business may not be to fill a personal unmet need but to fill an unmet need for someone you’re close to.
The story behind the OXO vegetable peeler is a great example:
“Sam Farber founded OXO when he saw his wife Betsey having trouble holding her peeler due to arthritis. This got Sam thinking: why do ordinary kitchen tools hurt your hands? Sam saw an opportunity to create more thoughtful cooking tools that would benefit all people (with or without arthritis) and promised Betsey he would make a better peeler.”
Sam figured, “if my wife is struggling with an old-fashioned tool, then there must be millions of people with arthritis who struggle, too”.
Today, OXO’s revenue is over $28.5 million every year and OXO is a significant player in the cooking gadget market. In fact, they almost created the market – it was practically non-existent back in 1990 when the company launched.
3. Your Ideal Customer Is Someone Who You Served When You Worked Somewhere Else
Over the years, I’ve worked with many fledgling entrepreneurs who walked away from their previous jobs because they realized they could do it so much better.
A perfect example is Jane Shook, the director of the Center for Therapeutic Strategies (CTS) in Dallas, Texas.
Jane’s training is in speech and language pathology. She always had a deep interest in the underlying causes of the learning and speaking disabilities that keep many people from living full and happy lives.
Back in 2006, while working at another practice, Jane recognized that the majority of people she served (mostly children) were frequently being misdiagnosed or receiving incomplete diagnoses. Consequently, they were getting less than effective treatment.
Jane founded CTS because she knew she could do a better job for these children and their parents.
Today, CTS is a proven leader in the development and application of innovative new treatments for children, parents, and adults who deal with processing and communication dysfunction. Jane is a top expert, a highly sought-after speaker, and a respected thought leader in her field.
A Very Interesting Business Idea
This excerpt from the Wharton School’s website sums it up:
“Clearly, when you see inefficiency in the market, and you have an idea of how to correct that inefficiency, and you have the resources and capability — or at least the ability to bring together the resources and capability needed to correct that inefficiency — that could be a very interesting business idea.” — Raffi Amit, a professor of management at Wharton
Hey, budding entrepreneur! Ready to find the ideal customer for your new business? To get you started I created a free (no strings attached) Ideal Customer Workbook that can be downloaded here. It’s a mini version of the exercises I use for my private and group clients.
Thanks for reading,
PS: I use “client” and “customer” interchangeably. I’m looking for a word that means both, but “clustomer” sounds terrible. Your ideas are welcome!
Want to have some fun? Click the link below and set up a 30-minute complimentary consultation with me. I’ll tell you something about your ideal customer you’ve never thought of before!