Sometimes we entrepreneurs get so caught up in our “grand vision”. Riding high on the wave of our “big idea,” falsely believing every human being on earth will one day use our product.
So we spend countless hours locked in our own version of “garage.” Acting like mad scientists mostly. Cut off from society.
And what are we doing there?
Desperately designing, building and perfecting our killer product to save the world. Laser focused. Nothing going to stop us. Moving ahead on what every person on the planet needs.
Except we have made a huge mistake.
We forgot to check with them first.
Well meaning entrepreneurs. Stepping out and taking the plunge. Starting their own businesses and cashing in their savings to do it. Definitely all-in on their dreams. Only to lose everything in crushing defeat.
So what happened? How did their dream die? What is the main reason for their failure?
Simply this: They seriously forgot who they were fighting for. They forgot about talking and listening to what their customer actually and truly wants.
Call it “customer validation”. Call it “persona clarity”. If you don’t listen to customers, your customers wont listen to you.
When we started the Vuka Board of Advisors for Entrepreneurs 4 years ago, it took us the first two years to know with clarity what type of entrepreneurs are meant for the Vuka Board. We now know with certainty the types entrepreneurs who are ready to have a Board. When we started we assumed that all entrepreneurs need a sounding Board and we were wrong, all entrepreneurs needs some form of advice and mentorship but not all entrepreneurs are ready for a Board, even if they want it.
Entrepreneurs will never succeed without having an intimate understanding of the people they are trying to serve.
Know your customer. Find her, care about her and what she wants, engage her, hang out with her, talk to her, have a real heart to heart conversation with her, not just business talk, learn from her, what keeps her up at night, once you know her pain, then serve her a solution.
Don’t run back to your garage, shut the door and keep your head down for 2 years building what you think will cure their pain.
No. If your customers have bruised knees, Start small. Be practical. Get them a band-aid.
Start serving your target customer in small ways and sometimes at cheaper or no cost to them.
Start a blog. Begin sharing helpful content to solve their pain. Start feeding toned down versions of products they might buy. Stick some things out there and see what works. Test different things. Measure the results. Poke the box and see what happens, and keep poking that box until something that works comes out.
It all starts with having a close relationship with your customer.
Listening is a skill, I wish most people would develop that skill. Listen to understand, not to react or defend.
Just because you can hear doesn’t mean you are listening.
Listen to your customer before she listens to your competitor.
If every good conversation starts with good listening, then I think every good business should start with good listening as well.
Listening is a must-have skill for entrepreneurs.