A lot of people have hopes and dreams of starting a business and a lot of us take that step, formulate an idea, and from there we tell ourselves that we have a business. But do you really have a business if you are unable to connect with an audience who needs the products and services that you are offering?
If you are unable to connect with people who need your services, you're going to stay at zero until you learn how to do that, or you hirer someone who can help you to reach your customers. As a business consultant helping clients with their marketing challenges, I encounter more often than not, scenarios where some key fundamental questions have not been posed. These are always difficult situations because I'm going to have to pose these questions and help the client understand exactly their position in regards to their objectives.
In my role I have accumulated a number of questions that you should ask yourself when you decide you want to embark on a money making venture, or on putting together a money making business. And here are those questions:
Can you describe what you do?
In speaking with a lot of people who are embarking on starting a business, and are at that small business level, it becomes clear that there isn't a clear idea of what is being provided in the marketplace. I've had people tell me that they are doing one thing, and then they are wanting to do three other things on top, and at the same time. The confusion that this elicits in listening to it I'm sure pails in comparison to the confusion of the person who is actually trying to start that business.
You want to be clear to yourself as to what you're doing. So that you can put together plans that help you execute on goals and objectives. If you have multiple ideas with multiple channels whereby you can expend your effort, you're going to notice that you will get very little accomplished.
Expend your effort on one thing when you're starting out so that you can see the impact of your efforts. Be clear for yourself and focus on one thing and weed out the others, perhaps when you have grown to a point where you're making $10,000 a month $20,000 a month $100,000 a month, then you can consider all the other opportunities, not until then.
Who are similar to you in your space?
Once you've explained to yourself that single thing that you do, and that you're going to provide to people, the next step is to consider who else does what you do. Chances are what you're going to do is not unique or particularly new and you want to come to terms with that. All this means is that you're going to have competitors, or people that do similar things to you, and they've probably been doing it for a while, and so you want to know who those people are, and who those companies are.
This type of information is useful because it helps you to understand the market, what is actually selling, and what's not. Looking at similar players allows you to position yourself differently. It is because of this knowledge that you will be able to offer something unique because it'll allow you to position yourself differently from your competitors.
If you don't have this information, then frankly you are blind and you really don't know the landscape you want to operate in which only makes for a bad outcome, financially speaking.
Can you describe the characteristics of your perfect client?
When you begin a business, it can only be successful if there is an audience who specifically needs the products and or services that you are offering. Now you as the progenitor or the person who is starting a business need to have that audience in mind.
You want to be able to describe who your perfect customer or client is going to be. This will help you to prepare the messaging, brochures, and advertising that is going to connect with that specific type of client. So imagine that you are a financial planner, who provides financial guidance to people, if that is your business then you want to understand the type of clientele that you want to go after. Obviously you can't go after everyone, you can try but it will only make for a poor outcome. You can go after people who are high net worth, or people who are middle to high income, or perhaps recent graduates entering the job market.
The audience types that you can go after are innumerable, but you can't go after all of them as a small business, and you are not a large company like Fidelity Investments, so when you make that decision as to who your clientele is going to be, being able to describe the characteristics of your perfect client is going to make your efforts more impactful, and you're going to be better able to see the results of your efforts.
What problems do you solve for your customers / client?
It is important to understand this question because it comes down to what is actually going to generate income in your business. Imagine engaging with that one customer who has a problem that needs a specific solution that you provide. This question is about the value that you are providing to your customer in exchange for money and that is why it is so important.
So again imagine that you are a financial planner and you have settled on the customer type that you are going after, which is recent college graduates. What value can you possibly provide to a recent college graduate as regards their finances?
What challenges are recent college graduates going to have about their finances? What information could help them make more informed decision? This and other questions are what you want to consider, research, and develop your solutions to. And this is the value that you would be bringing to each member within that audience group you've decided are your customers.
How are you going to reach your target market?
After you have decided on the four questions above, the next step is to build a bridge, or consider how you're going to build a bridge to your target customers. Imagine you know where a large treasure is buried in the sea. You know exactly where it is buried and you have the GPS location, but you have no way to get to it. You have no ship, you have no resources, you have no crew to help you.
With the scenario above, it is not difficult to understand your position. You have no resources to get to the treasure that you know exists at the GPS coordinate that only you know. So what do you have to do at this point? You become an entrepreneur and an entrepreneur is a risk taker. An entrepreneur is the kind of individual who looks at the landscape, defines where they want to go and prepares the plans and the necessary requirements to get there. Are you an entrepreneur?
Am I an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is an individual who puts together the resources, the people, the ingredients necessary to reach a destination. You have to become an entrepreneur to go into business anew and you want to ask yourself this most important question and that is whether you are a person who is up to the demands that entrepreneurship calls for.
From the scenario above, you know of a large treasure buried somewhere in the sea, you are absolutely sure of it, but you don't have a ship, you don't have resources, and you don't have a crew to get you there. So what you have to do at this point is to develop the resources, build up the crew, and find a ship that will take you over to that spot in the sea where the treasure exists. You understand this calls for you going out there and finding the capital for marketing, helping people believe in your idea so that they can come with you, and building the ship to get you to your customers.
As an entrepreneur you're going to have to learn new things, you're going to have to learn how to work with different people, and most importantly you're going to learn how to deal with uncertainty, in fact as an entrepreneur uncertainty will be 100% of your life. You want to ask yourself if you are a person who can deal with uncertainty?
If you are that person who can deal with uncertainty, if you are an entrepreneur, I'd like to be on your crew. I believe in your treasure and I want to help you get it.