The Secret to Successful Business? Be Your Own Customer

Insights for Professionals

Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Understanding your target market can be one of the hardest parts of starting a business, but you can make it simple by being your own customer.

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When you start your own business, you’ll struggle to find anyone who won’t agree that understanding your customers is crucial. Even enormous companies like Netflix and Amazon are constantly monitoring consumer behavior to make sure they have a good grasp of who their audience is. But as a start-up, you won’t have the same resources as one of the industry giants.

So, how can you make sure you fully understand your customer? One of the best ways is also the simplest: sell to yourself. If you’re the average target market, you’ll be starting your business with a detailed level of knowledge about exactly how you think and what your needs and pain points are.

This might seem simplistic, but it can be an excellent way to ensure your business starts off on the right foot. Here’s how you can become your own customer and market successfully to yourself:

Start by solving a problem

New businesses don’t always succeed. It’s estimated that more than one in five go under before their first year is up, while around half don’t make it past five years. While there are many reasons why this can happen, the number one cause is clear: 42% of startups fail because there’s no market need for their product or service.

This can be avoided by starting out with a problem you have in your life. Let’s say you’re a dog owner, and your pet just had ear surgery. You want to protect them from scratching out their stitches, but the bandages and cone given to them by the vet are uncomfortable. This could be a real lightbulb moment for you, as you’ve identified a need that’s present for your target market: yourself.

This isn’t a far-fetched example; in fact, it’s exactly what inspired Julie Haught to create the No Flap Ear Wrap. You have unmatched insight into areas of your life that could be improved, so you’ll know when you start out that there’s a market need for your product or service.

Test on your peers

Another benefit of being your own target audience is that you’re likely to know others who fit the bill. On average, Americans have around three best friends, and statistically they’re likely to be similar to you demographically. This means you potentially have three people to ask to see if your business idea is a good one.

Market research is essential to determine whether or not your initial idea should be pursued; however, it can be costly. The price of a focus group is around $1,100 per participant, which you can’t afford to throw around before your company has even started.

Being able to rely on a network of friends, peers and contacts can be a huge time and money-saver, and it’s going to be much easier if your customer base matches you demographically. This also means you’ll be able to ask more relevant questions, as you’ll have a solid idea of challenges and pain points when your customer is yourself.

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