a startup is a beautiful thing. It is the tangible result of an idea born in a garage or on the back of a handkerchief. But ask any founder what really proves their startup has taken off, and they’ll almost immediately say that this is when they’ll win their first customer.
However, this is easier said than done, as it will take much longer than an Ivy-educated founder and/or a celebrity investor pool to win that first client.
To start, you need to build a strong ideal customer profile to know your customers’ pain points, while developing a competitive SWOT analysis to broaden the range of options your customers go with.
Your target customer will choose a solution that will help them achieve their goals. In other words, your goals should be in line with your customer’s goals.
You’ll also need to create a shortlist of influencers that your customers trust, identify their decision-makers who make the call to buy (or not), and create a mapped list of goals that your customers will have. Align your goals with yours.
Understanding and implementing these things can guarantee you that the first customer will win, provided you do them well and honestly. Your investors will also see the fruits of your labor and take comfort in knowing that their dollars are doing well.
Let’s see how:
1. Create an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
ICP is a great framework to find out who your target customer is, how big they are, where they operate, and why they exist. As you write your ICP, you’ll soon notice that the pain point you perceived about them becomes more real.
To build an ICP, you’ll need a strong expression of the problem you’re trying to solve and the customers who experience the problem the most. This will be your basic idea. Then, as you develop your ICP, keep testing your baseline hypothesis to clear up misconceptions.
To be clear here will set you up with the proper Launchpad. No shortcut.
Here’s how to get started:
- develop one ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) Structure.
- Identify three target customers that fit your defined ICP.
- Write a problem description for each identified target customer.
- Prioritize the problem statement that most resonates with your product.
- Lock down the target customer of the priority problem details.
Practice use case:
You are the co-founder of an upcoming SaaS startup that focuses on simplifying the car showroom shopping experience, so that shoppers can enjoy the process. What will your ICP look like?
2. SWOT. develop
The SWOT framework cannot be overrated. It’s a great structure to make it clear who your competitors are and how you stack up against them. Note that your competitors can be direct or indirect (as an option), and it is important to classify these buckets correctly.