As entrepreneurs, our primary role is to solve problems, and meet customers’ needs. This is how we create value for our customers, and stakeholders. Successful entrepreneurs start with the customer first, and then define the product, or service that meets the customers’ needs, or solves the customers’ problems.
First, we must define our target customer. The most successful companies have a clear focus, and vision. Once we have our customer base defined, we can assess what the needs, or problems of this customer base are. This requires meeting face to face with customers, and LISTENING to them. Customers want to be heard, and entrepreneurs are often better at giving their customer a voice than large corporations. Make sure you leverage this competitive advantage.
Amazon is a prime example of a company that understands its customers’ needs. Using information on past purchases, Amazon is able to suggest future purchases for customers. For example, a new book by the same author of a book you purchased the month before, or a printer to go along with the computer you just bought. As the scope of goods Amazon sold expanded, the company was able to construct a more holistic view of customers’ preferences.
Entrepreneurs may not have the same access to customer data as Amazon, but we can still anticipate the needs of their customers, even before the customer has articulated them. The entrepreneur can identify macro – trends that will impact his or her clients, and create a plan to capitalize upon, or mitigate the impact of those changes. When challenges arise for our customers, we are presented with the opportunity to create value for them.
The most successful entrepreneurs don’t view their clients merely as customers, but as partners. These entrepreneurs don’t just serve customers, but build a relationship of trust, and serve as advisors. Sometimes this translates into business opportunities for yourself, but it could lead to business for others, including your competitors, as well. However, these short – term sacrifices will lead to long term gains. As an entrepreneur, you win when your customer wins.