I am taking a class to work on my business. It is a class for startups, primarily, but the exercises will not only help me with my business as a speaker, writer, and business coach, they will help me help you become a better business.
My instructor, Frances Schagen, has granted me permission to do all my homework worksheets live here on this blog. You can read the first worksheet here. Time for Part 2.
DISCOVERY DANCE – WHO?
The previous step was about me, what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it. This next exercise is for me to think more about who I want to work with. I have three questions to answer …
- What problem are you solving?
- What are the characteristics of the people you most want to work with? What is it about them that makes them a fit for your solution?
- List 20 people who have those characteristics and who you think might need your solution.
What problem are you solving?
Giving tools other than the markdown gun to retailers and small businesses to help them create successful businesses that can compete on a field slanted against them.
What are the characteristics of the people you most want to work with? What is it about them that makes them a fit for your solution?
Business Owners and Managers of small, independent businesses who:
- Can make their own decisions
- Want to learn new and better ways to run their businesses
- Believe in continuing education
- Are open to trying new things
- Care about their customers
- Care about their community
- Want a push in the right direction
- Want to learn new skills
Notice that these characteristics align with my Core Values of Having Fun, Helping Others, and Education. Your answer should align with your Core Values, too.
Notice also that I did not limit myself to just retailers. I go back and forth on this part of the answer. Although my background is in retail and some of my presentations are strongly retailer-focused, the characteristics listed above are not just limited to retailers. Nor are all my programs and teachings just limited to retailers.
My book Hiring and the Potter’s Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art works with any business that must hire people. I have a couple Fortune 500 companies that use this book and its teachings. I have a couple international companies doing the same.
There is something to be said for narrowing your focus so tightly that you become the known expert in a narrow field. There is also something to be said for keeping the net more broadly focused not on any single type of business or individual, but on the characteristics. I love that part of this question. If you own a non-retail business and have the characteristics listed above, I am sure I can help you.
There are still a couple problems with my original answer of “Business Owners and Managers of small, independent businesses.” Most of those people cannot afford my services on an individual basis and I prefer to work with large groups of these people at once.
Therefore, to truly reach them in the ways I can help most, I have a secondary customer that is in many ways my primary customer. I have to go through the gatekeeper.
My true customers are typically Trade and Business Organization Leaders who, along with the mindset above, also:
- Plan learning events for their members
- Hire people from outside their echo chambers to give fresh perspective, new insights, and sharper tools to their members
Those organization leaders are the gatekeepers to the first group because A) they have the money to plan learning events, and B) they can corral a number of businesses into a group setting.
Therefore, to reach my preferred customers, I have to find these gatekeepers who share these characteristics and reach them.
This is an important understanding and distinction. I write this blog and create the content on my website for you, the small business owner. I have to find another avenue to convince the gatekeepers to hire me. This blog isn’t for them, nor will it ever get me hired by them*.
When you understand your customers at this level, it changes the way you look at how and where to find them.
List 20 people who have those characteristics and who you think might need your solution.
I think Frances wants me to list specific people or businesses here. I’m going to take a slightly different approach in my answer.
I think the following businesses need my solution …
- Independent Retailers & Restaurants
- Locally Owned Franchise Retailers & Restaurants
- Service-based businesses such as insurance agencies and beauty salons
- Anyone involved in Sales
who belong to …
- Downtown Development Authority districts
- Chambers of Commerce
- Shop Local Organizations
- Industry Buying Groups
- Industry Trade Associations
- Main Street Programs
- Merchant Cooperatives
and/or attend …
- Industry Workshops
- Educational Conferences
- Local Seminars
I also think the following people need my solution because it can help strengthen their members, which strengthens their organization …
- DDA Directors
- Chamber of Commerce Directors
- Main Street Program Directors
- Shop Local Directors
- Economic Development Directors
- Trade Association Educational Committee Directors
One of the first questions I always ask when I meet this last group of people is,
“Do you offer or have you considered offering any training programs for your members?”
Listing 20 people can be challenging. For your benefit, I thought about my business at Toy House and came up with this list:
- Aunts & Uncles
- Home Schoolers
- Interior Decorators
- Event Organizers
- Daycare Workers
- Anyone with a waiting room with kids
I’m sure with enough thought you can come up with a list like this for your business.
Here are my takeaways from this exercise for you.
If you can clearly identify the problem you are trying to solve and clearly identify the characteristics of the person with this problem you would most like to work with, you’ll understand more clearly the advertising and marketing you need to do to get more of the customers you want (and less of the ones you don’t want).
(Having read ahead in the course work, I think Frances will take this info to send us in a slightly different and more fascinating direction than that. Sit tight. I’ll explain it when we get there.)
PS *This blog actually can get me hired by “them,” but it involves YOU. When you tell your DDA/Chamber/Shop Local/Trade Association person about wanting opportunities to learn more and having educational programming available to you, then they are more likely to hire me to do that. Tell your organization directors about me. Send them to this page.