Who’s buying what you’re selling?

When launching a business of your own, it can be easy to let the day-to-day operations of entrepreneurship get in the way. You lose sight of the fact that without a customer, you wouldn’t be able to keep those day-to-day operations running. You hope you do a good job of marketing—but beyond that, you’re not too concerned about the end-result of your product or service.

But businesses that have been around for longer than that know that the customer is the beating heart of what they do. Solving their problems is essential. And if you’re going to best solve the problems of your customers, you’re going to have to know who you’re selling to in the first place. Here’s how:

Discovery: How to Find Out Who Your Ideal Customer Is First

You can’t very well put together a complete profile of your ideal customer without knowing who you’re looking for. That means you’ll have to initiate the process of discovery:  uncovering exactly who it is you should look for in the first place.

At this point, it’s tempting to do all of this work in your head. You might ask yourself questions like “what is our unique selling proposition” or “what kind of person is looking for our company?” That’s all well and good, but consider that you’re not selling to an icon on a computer here. You’re selling to real people with real needs. And there’s already a wide market out there that makes discovering these customers possible. Here are a few ideas:

Strategy: Building a Customer Profile from the Ground Up

With those old misconceptions tossed aside, you’re ready to pool some of the data you’ve gathered and get a more accurate look at your ideal customer. But if you still don’t feel you have enough data, here are some tools you can leverage to build a more accurate picture:

Throwing Out the Old Assumptions about Customer Profiles

It’s easy to think of building a customer profile as an in-house event. But if you imagine the process as sitting around a conference room table and brainstorming with your team, you haven’t formed a complete picture of what your ideal customer may look like.

Instead, make sure that your customer profile is informed by the market. Here are some of the old assumptions about customer profiles you should toss out along the way:

Building a complete customer profile of your ideal customer isn’t a one-way street. The more you can involve real customer feedback and behavior, the better an idea you’ll have of what your business should be.