We’ve previously covered a lot of content on generating and evaluating startup ideas. And if you haven’t checked out some of the awesome content, here they are:
- 15 frameworks for generating startup business ideas
- How to test business ideas before launching?
- 12 unconventional ways to think of startup business ideas
Now let’s get back to the topic of how to get startup business ideas from potential customers.
Many entrepreneurs fail because they build things no one wants and they do that because they begin by trying to think of startup ideas.
A better way to get startup ideas is not to think of startup ideas but to look for problems. Solutions to problems can make for some of the best business ideas.
An idea might or might not be a solution to a problem. But, a problem will bring you closer to a business idea than a random idea.
The process starts with identifying a customer segment you want to cater to. The next step is to conduct customer development interviews with the segment to identify their problems and what solutions (business ideas) will be valuable to them.
Choose a customer segment
It’s usually better to pick a customer segment you want to serve than to build a solution and then figure out who needs it.
By concentrating your customer development efforts on a certain customer segment, you can gain deeper insights. Your initial idea might be wrong. But if you follow the customer development process correctly, you will know what their real problems are and what kind of solutions they need.
Focusing on a certain customer segment will also help you save time. Your time will not be lost if you focus on figuring out how you can help a particular customer segment rather than validating your product.
How to choose a customer segment
If you have easy access to your potential customers, finding people for customer development interviews will comparatively be easier. Customer acquisition can also be a lot easier. If you don’t have access to the customer segment you want to target, starting and building your business will take longer because you’re going to have to get access to the people first.
You need to understand the willingness to buy among the particular customer segment. Some customer segments might be less likely to use new technologies compared to others. In a b2b situation, some industries and companies are more likely to adopt new technologies compared to others. Some customer segments will also have greater budgets than others. Some customer segments take longer to decide and actually purchase the offering compared to others, which can mean longer sales cycles.
If your goal is to build a big company, you’ll want to be in a big market. You need to understand what your growth goals are to help you decide which customer segment to go after. Serving a very niche customer segment might not lead to as large of a business compared to serving a large customer segment.
When you have identified a customer segment you want to serve, the next step is to identify problems and unmet needs. To identify problems and unmet demands, you need to conduct customer development interviews. By asking the right questions and listening effectively, you can learn about customer pain points and generate startup ideas to solve those problems.
Some useful questions to ask in the customer development interviews are:
- What are some of the biggest problems do you face as a [customer segment]?
- How big of a problem is this? [market size]
- Have you tried to do something about the [problem]?
- What did you do and what were the results? [solution]
- How much did it cost you in money or time or emotion? [pricing]
Look and listen for people complaining and taking action to solve their own problems or meet their own demands.
One way to learn about problems worth solving is simply to be observant of what people complain about.
You can also look for solutions that people are putting together themselves. If they’ve taken the effort to make something themselves, such as a spreadsheet, it’s a sign that it’s an important problem for them. If someone hasn’t taken any action to solve a given problem that they have, it might be an indication that it’s either not a major problem, or that they don’t have any interest or motivation to solve it.
With the right customer development tactics, you can learn about the problems people have and how you can solve them. Customer development is generally used to validate startup ideas. But you can also use it to generate startup business ideas.
If you have just started a business or planning to start one very soon, use our AI-powered business assessments to help you make fast well-informed decisions on every aspect of the business.
If you enjoyed reading this article on how to start a business with no money, you should definitely check out more of our articles on our blog.