Are you building the right business for your ideal customer?

Last week we launched our new blog series for social entrepreneurs on how to work smarter, grow your business and increase your impact.  Our first post was on asking yourself, am I building the right business for me?  If you missed that post, you can find it here.

This week, we are discussing asking yourself whether or not you are building the right business for your customer.  Tough question, right?  But this is absolutely vital to your success as a social entrepreneur and small business owner.

I landed a dream job in Washington, DC straight out of college in 2003 with a boutique international business strategy firm.  I had a job I adored, worked with people I admired, and loved the client work I was assigned.  To give you a little background, we helped our clients do business in emerging markets around the world, and I specifically focused on sub-Saharan Africa.  One of the first projects I was given to write a series of country reports on countries throughout SSA where our client was considering doing business.  I dove right in.  This economics nerd started throwing statistics in wherever she could, as well as the political history of the country.  I happily polished everything up, and handed it in to the partner to give to the client.  And then I hear “This is great work...but I’m not sure this will be helpful as is to the client.”  

I had gotten so caught up in the excitement that I had never stopped to think about the client. Specifically how would they use this information to make decisions in their company and in their industry? How could I make their job easier versus just giving them the information I wanted to give them?

How often do we still do this today?  Jump right into a project or a business without thinking through exactly what the customer wants? How often do we actually ask them?

So before you jump into building a business, I suggest you honestly answer the following:

  1. Is this a product or service that my ideal customer/client wants, needs AND would be willing to pay for?
  2. Is this a product or service that my ideal customer/client wants to purchase from me and my business?
  3. Where do they typically buy these types of products/services, and do I have a plan to offer it where they would like to purchase it
  4. What qualities do my ideal customers appreciate in their purchases?  What drives them to make a purchase?
  5. Is this a brand story and a give back strategy they will resonate with and be driven to be a part of?

Taking the time to think through each of these questions before you launch will help smooth your pathway to building a successful social enterprise.  Wherever you are in your entrepreneurial journey, it is always good to stop and do a reality check on how you and your business are resonating with your ideal customers.

Today’s Takeaway:  Take the time to really think through whether or not you are building the right business for your ideal customer.  Next week, we will be discussing how to build a brand story that your customers will resonate with.

Discussion question:  Are you building the right business for your customers? Did you have a moment in your entrepreneurial journey that helped you to really connect with your ideal customers?  We would love to hear from you!

Do you know any other social entrepreneurs or purpose driven business owners that would find this blog series useful?  If so, please feel free to share this, and have them sign up here.