Virtually everyone is starting a business or at least considering it. From direct sales to traditional startups, business buzz is everywhere. According to the Small Business Administration, there are 28 million small businesses in the United States today. Although we are evolving into a more business conscious society, are we in fact, taking the necessary steps to be successful in business? Are we focusing on the fundamentals of entrepreneurship before we launch?
Don’t get distracted by the hype. Starting a business requires research and market insight. Yes, you may be ready, and even set, but do not “go” unless you can answer the “who, what and why” in your business. Who is your target audience? What do they need and why should they buy it from you? If you are unsure on any aspect of this equation, press pause, and “just say no to launch” until you can answer the following questions with certainty and detail.
1. Who is your target audience?
One of the most critical pre-launch questions is who is your target consumer? Is it pre-teens, millennials or high power executives? Where do they live and what are their spending habits? Defining your target market requires research and specificity. For example, if you define your target market as kids, this would be too vague. Break the market down further by identifying which kids. Is it 5-year-olds or 14-year-olds, boys or girls? Greg Head, marketing expert and founder of New Avenue marketing firm addresses this issue. He states, “Capable startups fail most often because they don’t narrow their target market focus enough in the early stages of their companies. They try to serve everyone in a big market rather than focus on a well-defined customer group where they can execute and win.” Bottom line, the more specific you become, the more well-defined your niche is, and the more you establish a power presence in the marketplace.
2. What problem do they have?
Usually when someone says “what’s your problem,” it can be construed negatively. Thank goodness in the business world, that question is well-received. The way to get footing on your competitors and woo ideal consumers is to understand what their problems are and how you can solve them. This methodology generally distinguishes budding entrepreneurs from business icons. Newbie entrepreneurs sell products and services, but moguls sell solutions. Being the solution to your demographic’s problem is the key to outwitting competition and staying in demand. Solving the problem drives product creation, well-tailored solutions and niche marketing strategies that address consumer needs.
3. Why buy from me?
The most compelling question consumers have is “What are you selling and why should I buy it from you?” In other words, why eat at McDonalds if Wendy’s sells cheeseburgers too? There are many fast food restaurants selling cheeseburgers, but it’s how they market them, that grabs the attention of the consumer. It’s called leveraging your competitive distinction, the thing that makes you both different and better. Study the competition. Look for gaps in their services. Whatever they do, do it 10 times better. Whatever weaknesses they have, market them as your strengths. Show the consumer why you are needed and why they should buy from you.
Remember, from business cards to websites and logos to taglines, starting a new business is a lot of work. There are always things to do, people to see and decisions to make. But, don’t launch prematurely. Do your research, know your market and never launch before knowing the “who, what and why.”
Teri Harrison is a catalyst for legacy makers. As a leading business attorney, power speaker, and success coach, she inspires entrepreneurs to elevate, execute, and excel. Harrison is the founder and CEO of Fearless & Fabulous Worldwide, a personal development and business consulting boutique for out-of-the box entrepreneurs. Harrison is also the founder of the Tennessee Business Law Center (TBLC), a specialty law firm that caters exclusively to entrepreneurs. Her first book, Winning at Entrepreneurship: Innovative Strategies for Small Business Success, is a motivational resource and roadmap for startups. For daily business tips and insight, follow Harrison on Twitter @_teriharrison.