It’s no surprise when I say that starting a business and keeping it afloat is no small task. There are so many factors that go into your success.
Chief among them is simply knowing what questions to ask yourself and those around you. The wisest people know when their knowledge is lacking, the only way to bridge the knowledge gap is to get out there and ask the right questions.
If you want to leverage your business effectively online, here are some key questions you need ask yourself, then answer.
What Do I Want Out of My Business?
There’s no trick to this question. Just answer it truthfully. There’s no point in having your own business if you’re not honest to yourself about what you want out of it!
For some the immediate answer may be “money,” and who doesn’t like money? But then what do you want the money for? Is it purely just for the sake of wealth, or is it about security as well?
Or if money isn’t your main motivator, maybe you just want to be your own boss. Maybe you have a passion for the industry you’re trying to break into. Or maybe you want to be a part of a growing, local business community.
Who Are My Customers?
The answer is never “everyone.” I doubt even businesses that sell necessities, like a grocery store, can claim that “everyone” is their customer. From a marketing standpoint, this would be poison anyway. Trying to make yourself appeal to everybody isn’t productive and doesn’t allow you to work creatively. Simply put, try to appeal to everyone, and you’ll appeal to no one.
So that means you must know: who is your customer? It’s not meant to be one specific person, but instead something called a “buyer persona.” This is kind of an archetypal character that you feel your business caters to.
For us, we have a persona that follows along the traits of a small to medium business owner.
Here are some good questions for you to determine who the people are that you’re trying to sell to:
- What age range are they in?
- What line of work are they in?
- What level of education do they have?
- What’s their level of income?
- What are their core values?
- What are their pain points?
Who Am I As a Business?
A lot of you have probably already asked yourselves this question, but it bears repeating. It shouldn’t just be something that you ask yourself once at the beginning of your journey. Businesses change and grow and that means sometimes so do their identities. This is where your core values will be ultra-important. They are the true answer to this question, and they will be your guide throughout your business journey.
Some ways to flesh your core values out:
- Look at some of your favourite businesses and ask what is it that has kept you coming back. What about their way of conducting themselves hooks you?
- What do you admire in other professionals? Anything you want to emulate?
- What is something that other businesses do that always bothers you? What makes you say, “if I ran this place, that would never happen”?
- What story do you want to tell with your business?
What Value Do I Offer?
Stop. If you haven’t answered the second question in this article, there’s no point in trying to answer this one. Your buyer persona is essential to this question. More specifically their pain points.
Focusing on these pain points is also important in knowing how to formulate your answer to this question. It’s so tempting to answer this question with a material focus. If you make shovels, your answer can’t just be that you make good shovels. We’ll call you “Salt of the Earth Shovels.”
Let’s say you’ve created a shovel with ergonomics in mind as well as effectiveness at cutting through soil. Then we could say that your shovel’s value is it’s a “high quality product that strains your body less and requires less effort to use.”
If we boil this down, the customer’s “pain” points are literal, physical pain and exhaustion, and time wasted during a manual process. So you, Salt of the Earth Shovels, offer value in time saved and pain avoided.
Knowledge of the value you offer is probably your most effective tool as well as an essential building block for your business strategy.
Why Should Someone Choose Me Over My Competitor?
Who you competitor is will heavily depend on what your business is and its scope. If you sell a niche product, you may not have much in the way of competition until you go international. Once you know your competitor (or competitors), it’s a matter of determining what you can offer that they can’t.
For a lot of people, the immediate answer is “quality and excellence” or that “our prices can’t be beat.” And while I don’t necessarily think you should lower your prices just to beat out your competition, it is in some ways the “better” answer here because it’s a concrete difference, whereas “quality and excellence” could mean any number of things. You can solidify this idea with a guarantee that aligns with what kind of “quality and excellence” you’re aiming for. But again, specifics are your friend here. If you just say, “if you’re not happy with our product, we will give you a full refund,” you could be opening yourself up for a whole lot of headaches.
One of Measure Marketing’s answers to a question like this is that we make our customers feel like they’re our only customer. This answer isn’t super specific, so to break it down, here is some of what we do to achieve this:
- We respond to our customers as soon as we possibly can.
- We make a point of getting to know our clients personally. We get to know them as a whole, not just as business partners.
- We deliver on what we’ve promised.
Well if you weren’t playing along with us at home, first answer those questions! Once you’ve developed those answers, you can start to work out how to use them to get what your answer was in the first question.
If you’re having trouble coming up with a plan on how to implement what you’ve figured out here, or if you had trouble coming up with some of these answers. Don’t worry, you can contact us and we’ll help you flesh out your vision for your business and make it a reality.