As entrepreneurs, our minds tend to run a mile a minute, always busy with new ideas. Sure, it’s a wonderful trait to have and it’s probably what led so many of us to build our product: we see problems and our minds start racing with ideas on how to solve it.
However, when trying to run your business, you’ll need to take into account that there are constraints on time, money and resources. You won’t always be able to develop that final version of your product or service. You need to keep this entrepreneurial spirit alive while maintaining realistic goals in mind – resilience is key. This requires to be able to identify what activities are key to reaching the next step in the development of your business.
How to Get Customers
The first thing you need to consider is how you’re going to make people want to buy what you’re selling. Especially when starting a new business, most people won’t know what’s so special about it and how it could benefit them. That’s what business development is all about.
First, you need to define who are your customers by drafting your Value Proposition. Then, you’ll need to assess how your product is going to solve your customers’ pains the way your competitors don’t, through a Competition Map.
There are two main ways you can attract customers. First, you can start by placing your product or service in front of your customer segments – think traditional advertisement.
The second option is to create a sense of urgency that makes your customers feel like they need your product – through content curation for example. How will you know which strategy to go with? It will depend a lot on your customers, and on the ROI (Return On Investment) you expect. Take the time to define these, and don’t be afraid to invest too much in Marketing – rather the opposite.
How to Retain Your Customers
Once you’ve managed to attract customers, your next challenge in terms of business development will be to actually keep them. You want to ensure that the people who use your product are satisfied, keep on using it – and even recommend it to their friends.
Again, there are many ways to get there: wonderful customer service is one of them, and so are referral codes for getting friends to sign up… Your options are virtually limitless.
The whole point is to understand which strategies are working, and at what cost. That’s why you must be diligent in keeping track of everything (hello Excel), and set proper KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
But that’s not it…
While it’s the core of business development, finding and keeping customers are definitely not going to be your only challenges. Human resources, finance, product development… Here is what lies ahead of you once you’ve defined your marketing strategy. Until you get to the next big step: coming up with an actual Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – the most basic version of your product or service that a potential customer would be willing to buy.
So think about this and what you need to do to get there, be it improving the durability of your product or implementing a new feature/update on your platform. You should be clear on what steps are indispensable for efficient business development and which ones are “nice to have” and can be postponed – especially because in addition to Product Development, you’ll have to focus on other needs such as your first hires, or certifications that your company needs to enter the market.
You don’t need to set a timeline for these changes just yet, but they should be ideas that are necessary to implement soon to ensure that your business continues growing and prospering. Keep in mind that you must be diligent and realistic – and ask yourself the right questions.