It can be scary, but it’s important to talk to your customers about their needs before you start talking about your product or solution.
I have an interesting perspective from my chair as the admin of Bootstrapper Breakfasts. I’ve been sitting in on the meetups for many years – about a decade – and have learned a few things along the way. Many topics and discussions have come to the table more than once. I was recently reminded of one particular topic.
On a call a couple of weeks ago, a new entrepreneur a few months into starting up her business talked about the all the market research and surveys she’d done. She’d run her idea by several friends and family members. The feedback she got was “Good idea!” which is always encouraging.
Then someone suggested she start talking to potential customers, which clicked with me, because I’ve heard this a million times.
The entrepreneur expressed some concern. She wanted to get a team together first and didn’t feel quite ready to get “out there.”
I’ve heard this many times before and cannot overemphasize the importance of getting out there and talking to your potential customers. You may think you know what they want, but there’s a good chance that you don’t. Get as much info and feedback as possible and use that as your roadmap. There are plenty of good ideas out there, but not everyone is willing to pay for them.
Talking with potential customers can seem pretty daunting for introverts or those who are uncomfortable having conversations with strangers. So they’ll convince themselves they aren’t ready. They’ll decide they need more prep and need to learn more, which are all handy excuses to read more articles and watch fifty more courses.
Entrepreneurship is a never-ending process of reflection and application and learning as you go. There’s always more to learn and you’ll never feel as if you’re one hundred percent ready to launch.
Once you have a minimum viable product — something that’s valuable, usable and feasible — nothing is better than talking with your potential customer. You may be surprised by the vital info you collect. The more you know the better you’ll be able to build (and market) your service or product. Is your initial idea not so great after all? Is someone else doing it better?
Conversations with potential customers are a good test to see if it’s something they want. Will they open their wallets or click the buy now button?
If they say “Great idea!” and don’t whip out the checkbook or credit card, then there’s a good chance the rest of your audience will do the same.
The bottom line is that most successful startups all started the same clunky way — they were clueless and had no idea what the first step was. But they took it anyway.
Just get started. Get out there and talk to your potential customers.
P.S: Come join us at a Bootstrappers Breakfast sometime. Serious discussion with entrepreneurs who eat problems for breakfast. To check out a chapter near you, click this link: https://bootstrappersbreakfast.com/
About Angie McCormick
Equal parts admin geek, post-it note freak and behind-the scenes go-getter, Angie gets stuff done by taking the admin and marketing activities off the plates of busy entrepreneurs so they can keep things moving forward.
Image Credit: Bootstrapping Reminder (c) Angie McCormick, used with permission.