We are often asked by entrepreneurs the following question: “what are some good strategic questions that we could be asking to help us be successful?” Below is a list that we have compiled based on our experience with helping companies go-to-market:
About Your New Business
- Who are your customers?
It is important to really identify who your customers are. If you are going to compete in the B2C (Business to Consumer) environment then you want to know what demographics, household income, location, etc. If your competing in the B2B (Business to Business) environment, you want to know what company size, company revenue, industry, and what process or need your augmenting or fulfilling.One of the most important decision making factors that companies forget to consider is “where the customer buys,” and “how they buy it.” Knowing where the customer buys can help you significantly in making better marketing decisions.For example: small businesses buy website development services from our company. They buy this when they are typically: (1) opening a new business: this is their first time opening the business or they’ve opened businesses before. If this is their first time, there will be a larger learning curve, and there will be a higher “account management” cost to educate the customer, and help them create a website. If they’ve open a business before, it typically be easier, and they would have had experience in opening a website before – hence, my cost to develop a product is lower then the former option. (2) they’ve been in business, they’ve ordered a website in the past and they are unhappy with their current vendor and/or they want a redesign or additional modifications.
Knowing what my margins, and how costs work – I understand that my highest costs are with my”account management cycle” and with educating clients on the website development process. The best way to lower this cost is to go for clients who fall in # 2 as they are more experienced.
When you open a new business it might take sometime to really crystallize who your target customer is; and know where true profitability exists.
- Which markets do you serve?
By confirming which market you want to serve, you can make adjustments to your: pricing, product packaging, marketing presentation, etc.Small choices in the markets you serve can help you increase customer acquisition and lower your costs to acquire a customer.
- What do your customers have that is similar and different to each other?
- Which services and products do you sell?
- What would customers value about your products and your business?
- What are the main external threats that could affect your business: legal, political, economical, technological?
- What plans need to be put in place to solve those problems?
- What does your business do well? What do you need to improve in?
Selling and Marketing
- How do you plan on marketing your product? (note: marketing is very different then selling)
- How do you plan on selling your product?
- How do you differentiate in the “eyes of the customer?” (note: two types of differentiation exists: implicit and explicit. The former: is something that is implied, but customers may not fully realize that it exists, nor does it truly matter to them. The latter: is something that is visible, experienced, and has merit in the customer value perception.)
- How fast will it take you to reach break-even?
- How can you increase your margins year-over-year?
- What are your revenue and profit goals for the first year, and the subsequent years?
- Where do you plan (which market area) on competing?
- How do you plan on winning in your desired market area?
- What capabilities/resources will you use to win?
- What management systems will be needed to win?