The Most Important Part Of Starting A Business
I'm gonna get right to it.
The most important part of starting a business is being very clear on who you want as your target customer. Notice I said who you WANT as your target customer, not who IS your target customer.
Being very clear on who you want as your target customer will help you in all of your marketing efforts. Refining who this person is down to a single archetype will save you time and money, as you won't be allocating resources to people that will not become repeat buyers.
Lemme address your immediate fear. You're thinking, "but DAF, I want as many people buying from me as possible, if I really narrow down who I want as my target customer, won't I be excluding people who might buy from me?"
Yep, you sure will. But, that doesn't mean they won't ever buy from you. AND if you are very clear on your ideal customer, that person will likely buy from you over and over versus someone who might buy once.
Think about Nike, do you have a pair? Are you their ideal target customer? If you have feet and wear shoes, you might assume you are, but unless Francisco Lindor stumbled across #styledaf and is reading this, you are not. Their ideal target customers are athletes, but that doesn't mean they only sell to athletes! They speak to athletes with a clear brand message and pick up anyone who wants to feel like an athlete, relying on social proof that Nike is the best in the biz!
Let's take a look at a couple other business models where you might initially want to stay broad on your ideal target customer.
Women's Boutique - Women who like to shop sounds ideal, but is it? You as a boutique owner cannot possibly clothe every woman on this planet, nor can you carry enough inventory to satisfy so many different styles. Let's be honest, the 25 year old woman who likes to shop is wearing something very different than the stay at home mom who runs the PTA from her minivan. Especially when it comes to something so broad as clothes, you HAVE to get specific, but I promise, people that fall outside your archetype WILL STILL SHOP FROM YOU. Abercrombie & Fitch has a very clear target customer, of which I do not fall into. However, they had a jacket I saw online and you better believe I hunted that thing down. Am I their best customer? No. Will I shop again in the next 90 days? Unlikely. That 17-20 year old surfer wanna be - they are shopping weekly.
Confidence + Public Speaking Coaching - Most people have the desire to be more confident and some want to conquer their fear of public speaking, but in general this is still too broad of an ideal client. You will spend a fortune marketing to "people that want to be more confident". However, you can deliver a clear brand message to a narrow amount of people looking for new skills in corporate career advancement. Or you could target up and coming political candidates who need to polish their public speaking skills before jumping on the ballot. You see how those are very different and marketing content would vary between the two? You might set out to target political candidates, one of which might also work at a Fortune 500 company and recommend your course to their boss. Essentially the meat of what you offer is the same, but the way you attract clients needs to resonate with them personally. The broader the message, the less it will resonate.
Mobile Dog Grooming - This one seems easy, right? All people with dogs within a certain radius are your ideal target customers. Nope. We can get even more refined with this one. Mobile dog grooming is typically more expensive than a grooming salon, so your ideal target customer likely values convenience over cost. (Notice I didn't just say makes a lot of money.) Do you want to target male or female dog owners? People with one dog or two? Your branding and pricing will all depend on how you answer these questions. You could target female dog owners with branding that appeals to women. You could target people with multiple dogs and figure a multiple dog discount into your pricing. You might find that as you identify your ideal target customer, market research will show there aren't enough in your area to be profitable and you'll have to adjust. You want to do all of this BEFORE you buy the shears!
At a later date, we will dive further into how exactly you get super clear on who your ideal target customer is, but I want you to start thinking about it and accept that it NEEDS to be niche. Remember when you speak to everyone, you speak to no one!