It Starts With The Customer

Every business needs them. Let’s talk about the customer first.

Every business needs them and can’t exist long without them, so let’s think about them first.

The key questions are:

  1. Who are they, specifically, sometimes even by name or single organization?
  2. What problem are you solving for them?
  3. How much are they willing to pay to solve this problem?
  4. What is the timeline or location expected?
  5. How do they measure quality, progress, or success in buying a solution to their problem?
  6. How is this customer solving this problem today? Is it with your competitor, and if so, what will you do to differentiate yourself from that competitor?
  7. How does the customer pay for the solution and how will you deliver your product or service to them?
  8. What relationship will you want to form as you serve that customer at each stage of the purchase from initial contact, sales, delivery, and support?

All of these questions could effect how you structure your product or service and could also affect how you run your business.

In the end, without happy, paying, lasting customers, you have no business and you won’t be in business for long.

The other elements of the Business Plan are important, but none are more important than knowing your customer.

There’s more to know, so look for more in you competition’s publications and in how your customer satisfies THEIR customer, too.

Entrepreneurial Habits of Mind

Wondering what an entrepreneurial mindset includes? Here’s one guide.

In our program we’ll be talking a LOT about many habits of mind around entrepreneurship. These habits, in general, have been heavily documented in the excellent text, “Students At The Center“, and in a separate post, Cameron Herold in a TED Talk also discusses his perspective on these habits as they apply to entrepreneurship. We’ve attempted to align them in the table below. We hope you find enlightenment in them.

Habits of MindEntrepreneurial Mindset
PersistingEntrepreneurs are nothing if not persistent. Often taking persistence past the point of rationality, but few successful entrepreneurs have reached success without persisting past significant negative reaction. Negative responses almost become a badge of honor like a rite of passage.
Thinking and communicating with clarity and precisionFor reasons of efficiency and risk management, entrepreneurs must make clear-headed plans that are communicated to others effectively, yet simply
Managing impulsivityThis goes with responsible risk-taking
Gathering data through all sensesYes, and through their network of communications
Listening with understanding and empathyYes, as part of getting to know their customers needs better than their customer does
Creating, imagining, innovatingYes, but not randomly
Thinking flexiblyYes, and looking for similarities and connections with other ideas
Responding with wonderment and aweEntrepreneurs go beyond awe and ask why and how to make something better
Thinking about thinking (metacognition)Entrepreneurs have to know their customers better than they know themselves.
Taking responsible risksNo good entrepreneur is reckless
Striving for accuracyYes, but not at the risk of missing an opportunity by demanding perfection at every step. Entrepreneurs understand the benefit of being a first-mover.
Finding humorRequired to persist past the negativity and challenges
Questioning and posing problemsYes, part of the systematic creativity process
Thinking interdependentlyYes, they don’t need to DO everything
Applying past knowledge to new situationsGoes with thinking flexibly
Remaining open to continuous learningMaking mistakes is the key to learning and a willingness to take responsible risks imposes a natural learning process.
And Entrepreneurs are much more
PlannersGood entrepreneurs understand sequences of effort and are able to communicate these plans
OrganizersEntrepreneurs know how to find and bring talent to them
StrategistsEntrepreneurs study their environments and make choices that take advantage of weaknesses while protecting their strengths
The Entrepreneurial Mindset

The Startup Checklist – The Business Canvas

There are no guarantees in starting a business, but one thing that is mostly guaranteed. Unless you have a sound business plan, your chances of success are slim, so take the time and build your network of support.

Originally documented by Alexander Vanderwalder, the Business Canvas is now a standard for initiating any new business startup concept.

Now, you can find all sorts of versions of the concept, so just search for it, and find a version that you like, but know that if you AREN’T thinking about all of the aspects of your startup that align to this concept, you are not ready to move out.

If you want one right now, use this simple Google Doc to start your own. It has all the elements to get you thinking.

Get help. Get lots of eyes on your business plan BEFORE you spend a lot of money implementing it.

There are no guarantees in starting a business, but one thing is mostly guaranteed. Unless you have a sound business plan, your chances of success are slim, so take the time and build your network of support.

And listen in, and let’s talk about YOUR business plan!

Chester Masterminds is live on Facebook and YouTube every Wednesday at 5pm.

Three Things for ANY Retail Small Business

Do you sell products or services to retail customers? Please do these 3 things to get noticed.

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">Do you sell products or services to retail customers? (This means you don't sell to businesses.)Do you sell products or services to retail customers? (This means you don’t sell to businesses.)

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">We've been doing research in Chester small business, and this issue stands out.We’ve been doing research in Chester small business, and this issue stands out.

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">We know time is precious for any new or small business, so you need ways to get noticed that cost almost no time, absolutely no money, and can integrate with what is likely stuff you already do.We know time is precious for any new or small business, so you need ways to get noticed that cost almost no time, absolutely no money, and can integrate with what is likely stuff you already do.

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">So if you are a retail business, please do these 3 things to get noticed:So if you are a retail business, please do these 3 things to get noticed:

  1. Get a free website on some host. WordPress (#1 in the market), Wix, Foursquare. Whatever. Anything that’s easy for you or a friend to build. Post a page that says where you are, and what you sell. Post your hours, if appropriate, and contact information. If you offer a discount to first time buyers, post that for sure. This is called a ‘landing page’ in the biz and you need one.
  2. Get your free Google Maps page at business.google.com. When folks look for stuff locally, they start with Google and Google Maps. Post pix of your business activities, hours, contact info, etc. Link this to your landing page. Basic stuff. This lets folks rate you, too, so ask customers to rate you with a small reminder on your business card or flyer or hand-written slip of paper. This will help grow your ‘word-of-mouth’ customer base.
  3. Get a free, dedicated Facebook page for your business. There are LOTS of features there, and you don’t need to spend money on ads until you start getting business. Link this to your landing webpage. Invite all your friends to like the page and respond quickly to questions or comments. As above, ask customers to comment about your service online and always thank folks for commenting.
<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">We'll talk about more, especially networking, on <a href="http://www.chestermasterminds.com">the show</a>, but please do these things.We’ll talk about more, especially networking, on the show, but please do these things.