Your Customer IS Your Business

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
Sam Walton

Bridge-to-Customer_iStock_000005355437XSmall[1]A business requires customers—not eyeballs or clicks, but people or organizations that are willing and able to pay for your offering. So, who is your customer? We recently advised a high school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) company that is looking to expand its market share. I asked them: who is your customer? The answer: Superintendents.

Hmm… this needs to be narrowed down a lot more. In order to build a business, you need to be very targeted about who your customer is. First, is the superintendent really the decision-maker, or just an influencer? Who will drive that sale through for you and who is going to sign off on the payment? Secondly, you likely won’t have access to most superintendents.

A little startup will never have the bandwidth to target “superintendents”. You need to find a segment, a niche. That could be: private/parochial schools, districts with huge STEM initiatives, reform movements around STEM. You get the drift. Start with a group that you can find and identify, and get them to be customers—yes, paying customers. Then, you will have a business that you can scale and expand.

One other note, many startups try to expand too quickly, to be all things to all people. As I launch my new company, I am going to keep this in mind, and make sure that I get it right with that first group of customers before trying to expand out too aggressively.

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