Too often, most budding entrepreneurs think: “If I have the right idea, at the right time, I will be able to attract the customers and the investors I need”. This thinking is wrong. As an entrepreneur, you have to earn the right to provide your product or service to your customers, and you have to gain legitimacy with investors, on top of that, the same customers might decide your product or service is not what they need. In this article, we share three tips that will take you a step forward in helping your business gain the license to operate from the people you need the most.
- Solve for the right problem at the right time.
Think of any great entrepreneur you know. This could be Steve Jobs, Richard Branson or Bill Gates- they have all had to have their businesses validated by their customers before being granted legitimacy- no matter how great their business idea would have been. For starters, the problem you attempt to solve for is as much your own and is it your customers problem. As a first step, you must establish whether your customers agree that it is indeed a problem. Imagine if you had attempted to provide the first personal computer before there was electricity- who would have bought that product? and imagine if you had invented the internet before the personal computer, no one would have understood the need for that service without the enabling infrastructure and products that go with it. If your potential or actual customers do not have a pain point around the problem you are trying to solve for, they cannot buy into it. You can confirm if your hypothesis you have is correct by conducting market studies and having conversations with your potential customers. Do not be afraid to change course if the problem you set out to solve is not a problem at all.
- Being financially savvy.
This goes for two things: being able to raise funds from people you would like to invest in your business, and managing your finances well once your business is operational. There is no shame in admitting that you may not have the skillset to manage your own business finances, however, as an entrepreneur, it is crucially important that you learn this skill to some degree. There are numerous online resources and coursework you can take for free to ensure that you stay on top of your business finances, make use of these and you will be able to convince those whom you would like to invest in your business to do so without cause for concern.
- Marketing for continuous buy-in
Getting your first group of customers does not guarantee a lifetime of continuous customer engagement. Remember, you need permission from your customers for your business to be operational. Your unique value proposition, however great, does not guarantee that your customers will want to buy from you. You need to be able to stay top of mind with your customers, whilst being able to convince them that your product or service is the right one to purchase for the problem they want to solve. The channel you choose to market yourself as a business will differ, but one thing is certain, if your customers are not interested, you are out of business.