When a potential client approaches me to help fix their marketing, I often have a good idea of what I problems I’m going to find during my research into the company. While that list can be long, both with complex and simple obstacles that cause trouble for a company, there is one obstacle that is very common and, if not fixed, will almost certainly lead to a failed small business: creating a business for yourself rather than for a targeted demographic.
Small businesses are typically born out of a passion we have: baking, fashion, art, etc., but in their enthusiasm, people forget to consider whether their passion and the business they plan to make out of that passion has a target market. It’s fantastic that someone wants to forge a new life doing something they love, but before they pour their savings, time and effort into creating that new business they have to research and plan how to tailor that business to fill a need in the market.
To aid that process, there are three questions that one should consider before starting a business or, in the worse case, trying to fix a failing business:
1. Why are you starting a business?
2. Why do people need your product/service?
3. How will they find out?
Let’s take a look at each of these questions in more detail.
1. Why are you starting a business? When considering this question, think about your interests, your business experience, your community among other things that make the sum of you. Once you’ve considered that, think about how those answers helped you arrive at the decision to start a business. If the first words out of your mouth aren’t something along the lines of “I saw a need” then, unless you are someone who doesn’t need steady income to make a living, you likely created your business for the wrong reasons.
2. Why do people need your product/service? Once you’ve identified why you wanted to start a business, now it’s time to explain exactly why the people need the product or service that your business offers. In detail, what is the gap that this business will be filling? Besides the product/service itself, what sets your business apart from other businesses that either do offer a similar product/service or, in the future, could do so?
3. How will they find out? Now that you’ve identified why you started the business and why people need what you offer, your last step, and most vital step towards profitability, is explaining how you are going to reach your target demographic. This step is where you must accomplish two things with a marketing plan: make your target demographic aware of your business and, once you have their attention, convince them to patronize your business.
Remember that the harsh reality of creating a business is more about filling the gap in a market more than it is about finally doing something you love. If you’ve successfully answered all these questions you are well on your way to realizing how you are going to accomplish the creation of a successful business and, hopefully, one that you are passionate about.