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Start with who

Posted on:January 23, 2024

I’ve spent considerable time pouring over ideas of my many business and product ideas, trying to figure out which is the right one to devote myself to. I imagine many entrepreneurs are in the same boat. Too many ideas, too little time.

One of the best ways to decide on the top ideas, in my opinion, is super simple. You can start by figuring out for whom your business is in service of. In other words, start with the target customer. The narrower the better. Ignore the what and focus on the who.

Here’s why: if you’re doing it right, you’ll be spending a lot of time talking to your customers and users. By starting with the people you’re building for, you can ensure that you genuinely like them. Don’t you want to enjoy spending time with them, thinking about their lives, and solving their problems? It will take a ton of time and effort to succeed, so having genuine care for the people you’re building for will keep you motivated.

Also, you can avoid the all-too-common problem of not being entirely sure who you’re building for, from the very beginning. A lot of companies have surprisingly vague ideas about who their customers are because they start by thinking about the product or the technology. Sometimes that works, but this lack of clarity can be fatal. As common sense as it sounds, many businesses struggle to identify their target users and customers. Some seemingly successful companies have raised millions in funding but might never find or sustain product-market fit because they don’t actually have a great grip on who they’re building for.

By starting with the target customer, you can avoid this problem and clarify essential aspects right away. Are there enough of these people out there? Will they pay for products? How much? Which brands resonate with them? What type of messaging works best? These questions are challenging to answer with a wishy-washy notion of the user and the problems they have, or jobs they’re trying to accomplish.

Even if you don’t have an idea for a business or a product yet, focusing on the target customer is still beneficial. You can interview them to learn about their lives and pain points without any preconceived notions about what they want.

So give it a try. If you’re searching for your next idea and unsure where to turn, start with who.