A startup is a beautiful thing. It is the tangible result of an idea born in a garage or on the back of a towel. But ask any founder what really proves his startup has taken off, and he’ll almost instantly say it’s when he wins his first client.
This is easier said than done, as gaining that first client will take a lot more than an Ivy-trained founder and / or a pool of famous investors.
To get started, you’ll need to build an ideal and strong customer profile to learn about your customer’s weak spots, while developing a competitive SWOT analysis to determine what alternatives your customers can turn to.
Your target customer will choose a solution that will help them achieve their goals. In other words, your goals should align with your client’s goals.
You’ll also need to create a shortlist of influencers who your customer trust, identify their decision makers who are calling to buy (or not), and create a mapped list of goals that align your customer’s goals with yours.
Understanding and doing these things can ensure that the first customer wins, provided you do them right and with sincerity. Your investors will also see the fruits of your labor and feel reassured that their money is being put to good use.
Let’s see how:
1. Create the ideal customer profile (ICP)
The PKI is a great framework for determining who your target customer is, how big they are, where they operate and why they exist. As you write your PKI, you will soon see that the pain points you thought about them start to become more real.
To create a PKI, you will need to have a solid articulation of the problem you are trying to solve and the customers who are having that problem the most. This will be your basic assumption. Then, as you develop your PCI, continue to test your basic hypothesis to rule out inaccurate assumptions.
Getting crystal clear here will set you up with the right launch pad. No shortcuts.
Here’s how to get started:
- Develop an ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) framework.
- Identify three target customers that match your defined KPI.
- Write a problem statement for each identified target customer.
- Prioritize the problem statement that most resonates with your product.
- Lock out the target customer from the priority problem statement.
Practical use case:
You are the co-founder of a future SaaS startup focused on simplifying the shopping experience in car showrooms so that buyers enjoy the process. What would your PKI look like?
2. Develop the SWOT analysis
The SWOT framework cannot be overstated. It’s a great structure for expressing who your competition is and how you stack up against them. Note that your competition can be direct or indirect (as an alternative), and it’s important to categorize these buckets correctly.