Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality
Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality

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Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality

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.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 2
Skip transcript: Video 2 Market research

Transcript: Video 2 Market research

We found it almost inevitable that you find yourself influenced by your own views on fashion. And it's hard to get away from that, to a certain extent. However, the more experience you build up, the more you realise you can step away and just listen.
I think that was very important for us. Rather than trying to project, which we did very early on. I projected my views, which are not very creative. My wife projected much more valid creative views. And what we found is, when we just stopped doing that, listened, and gathered the information, it was much easier to separate ourselves and really understand who our customer is rather than just be influenced by how we wanted.
That having been said, it is a family business. We have two young daughters. And they like what we produce, too. So sometimes we just produce things that they like.
I was looking for people who were in a position of authority and who held the purse strings. Because I wanted to know from them what it was they were looking for when it came to investing in an intervention. So I deliberately targeted people who worked at the local council, at their local authority, head teachers, deputy head teachers, people that really were the decision makers.
And then I also, right down the other end, talked to quite a few parents and people that I knew were looking for support for their children, either having worked with them before, or you know, hearing about them. And finding out from them what the barriers were and how I could try and overcome them in terms of accessing the support. Because often, support needs to be referred for by a professional person rather than a parent directly themselves. So I wanted to kind of bridge that gap a little bit.
Like most good ideas, it started out as my concept. And I thought that if I've come up with this, and I'm already in the industry and this is what I need, other people are going to need it, too. However, that's not the reality.
The reality is, especially within aviation, the demographic, the geographic is completely wide. And when you go and actually start to speak to all these people at conferences, at networking events, over the phone, over LinkedIn, over social media, and in the small communities that they're in, you get to understand that everybody wants something slightly different. So you have to adapt the product to the end user. And a lot of it is bespoke. A lot of it has to be adapted to the individual company.
So we spoke to so many people this time because, when we were developing the label and we didn't speak to many people, we developed a product that people didn't really want. And so when it came to developing the spray, because of the heartbreak of developing a product almost to its final stages and then not releasing it, we wanted to make sure that if we were going to release a product that it was something people actually wanted. And so that's why we started speaking to everyone under the sun in the industry.
End transcript: Video 2 Market research
Video 2 Market research
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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.


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