As a consultant in go-to-market strategy I am bias to the notion that one of the first things a startup must find is their ideal customer. One of my clients recently did some intense work developing a customer persona to pursue for their SaaS solution and that is just one important element of go-to-market.
As a founder one of the most important things you must do is learn whether or not your idea resonates with its market. So many founders get an idea then they develop that idea around their own experience with its function or value proposition before they even think of testing it on others. This is a first mistake that we have all made as founders. Just because we think our invention solves a need for ourselves or the immediate group surrounding us doesn’t mean it will resonate with enough customers to make it a successful product or business. Understanding this will help you decide whether this is a cottage business idea or a scalable global sensation.
One way to visualize finding your customer persona is to imagine the circles of a target. Then imagine them shuffled out of symmetry, add several more “center target” sized circles scattered about, and you are looking for the smallest circle closest to the center of your new disheveled target. Once you find it that’s only the beginning.
Can you reach these people quickly to test your idea? Are they even looking for your product, service, or solution? Do they even need it?
Until the iPhone was released most people did’t know what they were missing. Now a new generation looks at most single purpose devices that were absorbed by smartphones, watches, cameras, calculators, maps, alarm clocks, video cameras, and don’t forget phones, and they say, why?
My advice to founders who have what they believe to be a runaway, slam dunk, idea is to put their alpha, beta, prototype, or MVP into the hands of their ideal customer according to the persona they have at least contemplated and listen what they have to say. Then repeat, a lot.
Once you have discovered that the unicorns trotting on rainbows in your head actually have traction with your market then develop a pitch and go looking for money to back it.