Entrepreneurs have big dreams. They want the entire world to know and love their products and services. They're not content with moderate success. They want to dominate the market.

It can be easy to spend huge sums of money attracting the world to your products and services, only to find you've overspent and don't have any new customers to show for it. It's a situation many entrepreneurs find themselves in, and it can sink a business before it ever gets off the ground. But it can be remedied.

It's hard to get noticed in this clutter-filled world, but attempting to reach everybody with your product or service is not only inefficient, it's also very expensive. That's why it's important to clearly define your target customer and meet them where they are.

Here's how.

Focus on what you do well

There's an age-old model about unique selling propositions (USP), and it still rings true today: What is it that you do that nobody else does better, and for whom? Firmly answer those two questions and you're well on your way--but it's not as simple as it sounds.

Many times entrepreneurs don't think about what they do well. They are motivated by dollars or customers instead. They focus on the end result too early in the selling process without focusing on what makes them unique.

Entrepreneurs should spend valuable time as the company is forming to drill down on what makes it special. When you can explain your USP clearly to prospects, you're ahead of the game. And don't forget, as a company evolves this process must be repeated.

Identify customer pain points

If you want to be successful, you have to focus on customer success. This means you need to actually talk with your customers consistently from a very early stage in the business. There's no big mystery here, but I've seen entrepreneurs skip this vital action time and again. They don't consistently pick up the phone and talk to customers. Not email, not text, just a 15-minute phone call. The more this is done, the clearer the target market becomes.

Find out the problems customers are having right now, and think of it as a research project. Don't go in with the goal of selling. That can come later. When you call to simply listen to your customers, you discover all sorts of interesting insights. Maybe they are using a competitor's product or service that you also provide and you didn't even know. Other times, they may be using your product in a way you had never considered before.

Countless big companies spend millions each year on focus groups and surveys to identify what they THINK the problem with a product or service is. But often when that process is critiqued from the outside, it's discovered that people's motivations carry them away from what the company is truly trying to discover. Smaller businesses have an inherent advantage here because it's easier for them to speak directly with customers to understand their wants and needs.

While conversations with customers are vital, the reality is that it's tricky for them to articulate problems. The way to overcome this is simply to have a lot of conversations. Over time, you'll see patterns emerge. And when you get an articulate customer, they are gold because they tell you what the issues are, and represent a broad group of people.

The struggles entrepreneurs face launching a business are countless, but right from the get-go it's critical they correctly identify their target market. When launching a business, little is more important.

If an entrepreneur can boil down their business to what truly makes them unique and communicate that, they're off to a great start. And if they keep in close contact with their customers, their target market will become all the more crystal clear.

Published on: Mar 24, 2016