Updated: Jan 21
Everyone and their mother will tell you they have the secret to making a successful business. I'm not here to tell you i have another secret - I'm here to tell you there is no secret to running a business.
The market is king. The market tells all. Listen to the market.
The best indication that your customers like what you're doing is they hand you money. Lots of people will talk and give advice - the most important advice is what your sales tell you. If someone is handing over their hard earned money for your product or service, you're doing something right. Keep doing that.
So how do you get sales? You need to actually be solving a problem that matters to your customers. In today's day and age, anyone can build a website and start selling something. You need to do more than just sell something. You need to figure out what challenges your customers face in their every day life, and then solve those problems better than your competitors.
Okay, this is starting to sound lofty. How do you actually figure out your customers problems? Let alone solve them better??
You talk to them.
It sounds crazy, but it works. Steve Blank in his book The Four Steps to the Epiphany discusses the customer discovery process in detail. You have to actually go out and talk to potential customers about the problems they face in their daily lives.
That's the only foolproof way to actually find out what your customers want. You ask them. You get up off the couch and you go talk to them. Sometimes showing up is 90% of the battle.
You have to be careful though, you can't ask just any question. Leading the witness and getting a false positive response is sometimes worse than doing nothing at all. Having your mom tell you your business idea is brilliant can lead to you spending months on an idea that is truly awful. You have to be tactical about how you ask the right kinds of questions to get real data from you customers.
I recommend reading Rob Fitzpatrick's book The Mom Test. It's a quick, 2-hour read that will change the way you talk to customers. The author gives practical advice on how to ask business questions that even your mom can't lie to.
Ask the right questions. Find the real problems. Provide the right solution. That's how to make your business successful.
And for all your tech needs as you start and grow your business, there's Porter Software. If you can't find what you need on our blog, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.