1.3 Getting to know your customers
Can you be sure that you are representative of the customers you are targeting? Are there others like you and, if so, how many? That is, do your experiences make you typical so you can use your knowledge to represent others? Having suggested that the would-be entrepreneur is closer to their customer experience, it is right to urge some caution. You can only really answer these questions by engaging with your potential customers.
Even if you are not sure what your offer is beyond an initial idea, your understanding of whether others ‘buy into’ your idea or concept will require you to pass it by other people. There are several potential sources of help and feedback, not least family members, and you will also need to convince sympathetic suppliers who might offer good credit terms, bank loans, or other investors. All of these are people you may need to convince first.
This kind of engagement and even persuasion can be referred to as internal communication or marketing, and it is an area that should not be overlooked. Suppliers, distributors and funders are all people who need to be able to trust your judgement, feel that your experiences are authentic, and believe that you are reliable. You need to be able to persuade these people just as much as you need to persuade your customers.
Now listen to our four entrepreneurs as they describe how they have used the feedback and input from customers to shape their businesses.
When watching the video you might have noted the different ways our entrepreneurs talked about different stakeholders, and perhaps even some tentativeness around knowing who their customers are.
Next you will consider the ways in which to get to know what your customers are looking for.