If people tell you they want watches, do you:
A) make watches and sell those watches.
B) make clocks and convince people clocks are better.
I hope you chose A. If you chose B, there’s a chance you’ll be successful, but you’re definitely making success as difficult as possible. Why wouldn’t you make what people want?
Makes perfect sense.
However, most small business owners choose B
Most conversations I have with small business owners go like this:
Me: “What do your customers want?”
Them: “I think they want Product A.”
Me: “Did you ask them?”
Me: “I did, and they said they want Product B.”
Them: “Maybe, but I’d rather make Product A.”
Do you already see the problem?
Most business owners completely ignore their markets
I learned this lesson the hard way with my first company, a clothing company with a cause. I made what I thought consumers would want, and then tried to find people to buy it. I never asked anyone what they actually wanted. And even worse, people would tell me what they wanted, to which I responded, “I’d rather make this type of clothing.”
I had chosen option B, the difficult way to success.
But what about the entrepreneur who starts a business out of his own interests?
He was lucky. His interests and the interests of his market matched. There are quite a few entrepreneurs like this. Likewise there are millions of unlucky entrepreneurs who failed.
It’s All About Them
So what’s the lesson here? Don’t start a business with the “I” perspective (“What do I want to make?”). Instead, you should be asking what do “THEY” want? What do your consumers want?
The best advice on this topic is from Tim Ferris in “The Four Hour Workweek.” To summarize Tim, he says to first find a target market, figure out what they want, and then make what they want.
Talk with your current and potential customers. What do they want? What can you provide?
Sounds simple? It actually is.
Have any of you adopted this market centric form of business?
Photo Credit: renjith krishnan