I’m in the process of planning out a business idea. I’m bringing my husband on board with this one. I just know we’d work very well together…and I also like pushing him out of his comfort levels once in a while;) Also, he’s a smart business man with a creative side – both qualities will be perfect for this new endeavour. I’m very excited…although very nervous about launching another biz. The typical questions are already saturating my mind and threatening to cloud my excitement. “What if this flops?” “What if we lose all of our savings?” “What if we come across fierce competition?” “What if?” “What if?”
The brainstorming stage of business is exciting but, having gone through launching a business already, I know it’s a step not to get too lost in.
Dreaming is great, but without action + desire, there is nothing.
And, so, while I’ve been writing down ideas and envisioning how this business will operate, I’m also using whatever free time I have to research my target market.
Understanding the people who will buy what you’re selling is the most important thing you can do. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, and if you don’t know how to talk to them you’re headed for flops ville. I’m even going to head out on a limb here and declare knowing your target audience as the most important piece of your business plan. I’m now going to go further and declare the traditional business plan as not as important as we’ve been taught to think (unless you’re reaching out to investors and applying for funding. That’s another story)! I’m going to put together a future post about why I think this and what I personally do instead. But, for now, let me share with you the simple steps I take to narrow down my target market in the early planning of business:
- I ask myself who I came up with the idea for in the first place. So, let’s say you’re out to dinner with your best friends. Someone has to go before the bill comes and asks how much she can leave. Suddenly, an idea pops in your head, “hey, I should develop an app that can make restaurant tipping for groups super easy and fair!” There, you already have an idea of who is your target market – restaurant patrons who enjoy eating at restaurants as a group but hate the awkward “what should I tip, I’m leaving early dance.” Not exactly clear yet but you have an idea.
- I then think about what potential buyers would have in common with one another. And what are their demographics? So, if I come up with the brilliant idea that sells grow-it-yourself-herbs with easy instructions and cute pots to go with the seeds (obviously, I’m having one of those “creative” days LOL), you must ask yourself, who would benefit from this and what do they all have in common? Well, for one, they enjoy fresh herbs but they a) don’t have their own garden and b) don’t want to purchase pre-made post in the store. This group is in love with DIY projects and healthy eating. Demographic-wise, I’d say they are: 20-30 years old, on a fixed income (fresh out of school), interested in a grassroots way of living, and also enjoy unique products and services.
- This next question is important – is the market big enough to sustain this business idea? This is the point when I research how many people would benefit from my business idea. You can do your research by sending out surveys, looking into stats (don’t just Google, log into sites like Stats Canada or research companies like Nielsen).
- Ask where your target market hangs out. Where can you find them? Are they on Facebook, SnapChat, Quora, and Twitter? What groups on LinkedIn would they hang out in?
- Find where they hang out and then listen. Ask questions and listen to their answers. You’ll learn a lot without the pressure official research may bring.
So, those steps are part of the very first step (second, if you count the business idea and vision itself.) If you have the dream but not the market, you have just a dream!