13- Mar2014
Posted By: Tim Ajayi

The ONE Question your Startup Must Answer

Josh has had it. He wasn’t going to take it anymore. His people had driven his predecessor nuts and were getting warmed up for an encore with him.

Finally, he did what great leaders do. He set a definite future course, drew a line in the sand, and asked of Israelites: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.”

And there you have it: the pivotal decision every effective marketer and business builder makes.

If your startup is going to have a chance in the marketplace, you have to ask the ONE question at the core of this decision:

Who do you serve? Who IS your customer?

Here at NewGate, we spend about 80% of our time listening to pitches from?entrepreneurs and investors – the one for capital, the other for the next big idea to fund. At some point during an entrepreneur’s pitch, one of us will usually pose the question: so, who is your customer? Who are you building this product or service for?

Then we all shut up and wait for the response. In the ensuing pause, I would usually send a silent prayer upstairs: Pls Lord, don’t let her say “everybody.” Here’s why: if you answer “everybody” to that question and act on it, it’s game over. You might as well pack it up, return your investors’ cash, buy yourself a Slurpee and go get a job.

No business serves everybody. Scratch that. No great and effective business serves everybody. Not Google. Not Walmart. None.

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling air itself. Some people will prefer organic air; some, air made in China; and some would demand strawberry-scented air.

Before your ideal customer chooses you, you have to first choose her. (Note: not THEM. HER). One living, breathing customer with a need or want and the ability to pay for your product or service. Find her, fall in love with her and her frustrations with the problem you solve, and become her dream-come-true solution provider.

So, I ask you today: who IS your product and service designed to serve?