Three Questions for Every Entrepreneur

A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities, said J.R.R. Tolkien, the man who wrote The Lord of the Rings. But the quote holds a very special meaning for every passionate entrepreneur out there who is sharpening his axe or hacking away tirelessly. But sometimes, the same passion becomes a hurdle in his path! Sounds outrageous?? Let's take a deeper look!

Every new startup sprouts from an idea and later blossoms into a business. This journey is never an easy one, but it is fueled by the entrepreneur's passion and dedication to the idea. The idea can be a unique product or a service. Once the idea is set in stone, startups work hard on fine-tuning the product, the positioning, branding, imagery and the USP of their offering. After all, the road to differentiation is hard and winding! But they keep at it. But in this chaos, they often miss out on a very important element of success, which leads to the downfall of so many startups. This critical element can be summed up in three questions:

These simple and elementary questions lay the foundation stone of the sales and marketing strategy for every entrepreneur, irrespective of the domain or industry that he operates.

Who is Your Customer?

The answer to the first question is like the GPS of your sales and marketing strategy. Unless the GPS is set right, the business cannot move forward in the right direction. It starts meandering about, trying to be everything to everyone. To answer this question, there are three simple implementable steps: -

  • First, you need to start with knowing who needs your product/ service. Does it address his fear/need/problem? Suppose you are a food delivery service, a bachelor or a student staying on his own would be a more definite customer than a family. You can also cater to more than one customer profile, but you need to define the profile carefully and in detail.
  • Once you have identified who your ideal customer looks like, start with your personal network. Open your phone book/ social media handle and take a good look. How many prospects do you see out there who fit the customer profile? Make a list of all the prospects and gather information about how your product/service can add value to their lives.
  • Start Micro – Grow Macro – Be everything to someone rather than something to everyone! This is especially relevant for entrepreneurs who are starting out. Start with a laser-sharp focus on your customer segment and add as much value as you can to them. Embed the thought in their mind that you are the expert when it comes to that domain. For e.g. If you are a home baker running your own business, and cupcakes are your specialty, then ensure that your prospects think about you first when it comes to cupcakes for any occasion. But a caution here – spamming is very different from adding value. Knowing the difference between the two is extremely important.

Why should he buy from you?

This second question will establish the value that you will be adding to your customer’s life. Does your customer buy from you because you have the most amazing product? Or the best after-sales service? Or is it because you are the cheapest in the category? Or is it because you happen to be the first that he sees when he steps out to find a solution to his problem?

To find the answer to this critical question, you have to first see outward and then see inward. This is where your passion can become a hurdle. Many entrepreneurs are so passionate about their business idea/ product that they don’t realize when it becomes an obsession. When that happens, we often tend to focus way too much on the features, benefits and frills of our product. Instead, the true focus should always be on understanding the value we are adding to our customer’s life by addressing his problem/need/fear. Always remember the adage – my business and my product exist only if I can add tangible value to my customer’s life.

For your prospect to turn into a customer and buy from you, you need to establish the following:

  • Trust
  • Value
  • Affordability.

Not even one of the three is optional. Trust is established by the entrepreneur himself. Value is created by a deep understanding of the core problem of the customer and his priorities. Lastly, affordability is ensured by optimal use of technology, process and systems.

Why should he rave about you?

This third question is the game-changer of an entrepreneur. When a prospect turns into a customer, the business begins. But when a customer turns into a raving fan, the business takes off! There is a big difference between the two. A lot of entrepreneurs focus on the closure of the deal, but the successful ones see sales as an experience and not merely a transaction to be closed. When the process of selling is crafted into a pleasantly memorable experience, the customer raves about you! It is as true and relevant for a publisher as for an HR consultant or a home-baker.

So, if you are an entrepreneur chasing your dream or sharpening your axe, pause and see if you have a robust, pinpoint sales strategy in place. When your customers become raving fans, your dream business becomes a reality!

About the Author

Vinay Pushpakaran is a sales specialist, communication coach and entrepreneur with over 16 years of experience in sales and marketing across 7 countries. He has co-authored 'Filter Koffee Chronicles' - a collection of short stories written during the lockdown. He specializes in audacious sales strategies for entrepreneurs. 

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