Who does your business serve?
One of the first choices to make when you are setting up a business is 'who you will serve'? Which group of people will you aim to sell your goods and services to?
Often, our first thought is 'I need customers and I’m relying on this income. I’ll sell to anyone who’s buying!'. Although it can seem counter-intuitive, now, more than ever, not choosing a target market will hold you back.
If your business isn’t progressing as you’d like, this is an area to revisit to make sure you have a strong understanding of who you are serving.
Remember why you’re on this business adventure. Was it to do with a lifestyle with freedom and flexibility to fit in all you love? Creating something important to you, expressing your uniqueness and making an impact?
I hope so! It is essential you know and appreciate yourself, your preferences and the situations in which you do your best work. This is the starting point.
Your target market are people who enable and inspire you to do your best work - those you relate to and understand. Preferably you are in this group, have been in it in the fairly recent past, or those close to you are in it. You know their priorities, hopes, and concerns, as well as where they seek information, where they hang out, and how they spend their time. They should have a need for your product/service, value it, and be ready to pay.
You may potentially have a number of groups to target. There will be so much to do and learn when setting out, and it is usually best to choose one group to focus your efforts on before extending to others.
In your research, before starting out and during all your potential and actual customer interactions, you are building your understanding of this group so you can better reach, engage, serve, sell to and build relationships with them.
It is hard to imagine any business that doesn’t have an online component. The more clearly you have defined your target group, the easier it will be to reach them online. You will know the language to use to attract them and the offers to make them. You will also be competing with businesses online - would you prefer to buy from someone who seems to understand your needs perfectly and has a product designed with you in mind, or a generic, one size fits all version? It is likely, with all the other messages coming your way, the generic version won’t even draw your attention.
Could this mean turning clients or customers away?
Of course, you can still work with people outside your target group, but do so with caution! Remember they may need something slightly different from you, and you probably don’t want to take their feedback to heart. Also, take care they do not turn off your existing customers or damage the perceived quality of your brand.
Michael Port recommends setting up your 'red velvet rope policy' to ensure you only select people to work with who bring out your best. This is most important when you are providing a service over time, but every business can benefit.
Giving a great service boosts your confidence and morale, enhances your reputation, and gives you social proof, all great for building your business. Working with clients or customers that are wrong for you can be distracting and disheartening.
So, listen to your intuition. Value your expertise and time, and focus on making a valuable difference to a specific group of people who you love to serve.