Step 3: You Must Learn From Them

Yes, the premise of conversations with potential customers is to learn from them. Ask some open-ended questions and then close that mouth so you can listen. Really hear what they are saying.

One of my favorite questions to ask? “What keeps you up at night in a cold sweat as a business owner?” You wouldn’t believe the answers I get. Stories to blow your mind.

Oh, but wait: You’re targeting stay at home moms; single men in their 20’s; or rocket scientists working at NASA. Doesn’t matter. Just slip your target’s gig at the end of the sentence above. You know, like: “What keeps you up at night in a cold sweat as a rocket scientist from NASA?

Get ready to discover pure pain. Rolling thunder of words poured out with unmasked emotion.

And why is this good? Because figuring out a way to cure their pain is like finding the golden ticket in the Wonka Bar. Pure utopia.

Step 4: You Must Serve Them

Once you know the pain of your customer, and it becomes pretty clear the same pain is common among many, it’s time to serve.

And not like you think. Don’t run back to that garage of yours, shut the doors behind you and hunker down for 2 years building what you think will cure their pain.

No. If your customers have skinned knees? Start small. Be practical. Get them a band-aid.

Eric Ries calls it a MVP or minimum viable product in his book “The Lean Startup”. Again, call it whatever you want. But the point here is to start serving your target customer in small ways; and sometimes at no cost to them.

Start a blog. Begin sharing helpful content to solve their pain. Start feeding toned down versions of products they might buy. Stick some things out there and see what works. Test different things. Measure the results.

Man — I don’t need to re-write the book here on this stuff. Each one of these steps is covered by a million articles and a thousand books.

So why don’t more entrepreneurs follow this simple strategy? I’m not sure. But boy is it painful when they don’t.

Have you figured it out yet? Do you know what most startup entrepreneurs get wrong?

Yes — it’s the customer silly.