There are many reasons why businesses don’t make it, but undoubtedly, the primary culprit is a lack of profitable clients.
I know that should seem obvious, but if more people truly appreciated this fact, they would go about their business in an entirely different manner.
Most businesses are started by people who think they know how to do something or think they want to sell something. In other words, most businesses are started with the business in mind.
But, if we actually understood that the only thing that mattered was an abundant volume of profitable customers, we would surely start with the customer in mind, right?
Customer focus vs. business focus
Another way of saying this is that instead of starting a business and then going out and finding customers that want to buy what you sell, you should go out and find customers and then build a business around what they want to buy.
In this model you really only have two jobs to master. First, you must come to understand precisely what your market will pay for and then you must build a repeatable sales system that allows you to profitably get it to them.
Get customer discovery and sales right and you can’t fail.
No matter if you’re an accountant, consultant, plumber or jeweler, your main job is to get out there into some segment of the market you hope to serve and ask them what they want, what they don’t have and what they are willing to pay for, even if what they want isn’t what you want to sell – or maybe especially if that’s the case.
Until you fully appreciate this idea your business is a crapshoot at best.
Now, I’m not saying that you’re going to base every decision, every feature, every twist and turn on customer feedback, but I am saying that you need to stay very close to customers and prospects as you think about your offerings and test everything with them until you land on a value proposition that gains traction.
Test and evolve
Before you launch a business or product test your assumptions – test your packaging, pricing, bundling, message, products, services, branding, revenue streams and business model with some segment of your market and pay attention. So often, what seems crystal clear to us makes no sense when unleashed into the wild.
This is not the same as research really – this is more like constant, real-time feedback and it involves constant testing, including what the customer experience is like after they buy, why they might buy more and what it would take to get them to refer you.
Build a sales action process
This is a process and the aim of this process is to figure out how to create profitable customers before you commit to what your business actually does and offers.
Once you do this, you can move to building and scaling a marketing action plan that turns this process into consistent and predictable results.
Then and only then, will you build a business that cannot fail.