Your first challenge as an entrepreneur with a new idea is not production, nor distribution, marketing or even sales. It is to find a customer, according to Steve Blank in this powerful and highly recommended video.

The customer is that elusive critical component in the wild west of the market-place that says to you: “yes, I like this, and I want it…”

Only after you have found your customer should you then do the normal marketing stuff.

Finding your customer is tricky, because it often means being proven wrong. You may think it is person X, meanwhile it is person Y. It involves a process of matching your proposed solution, as represented in your offering, with a problem (that the customer has). This process is called “achieving product market fit” and only once you have achieved it are you ready to ramp things up!

Think about it! It is quite an unnatural approach. Step 1 is not to market your idea; nor to sell it, but purely to find that customer.

So how do you do this?

There is only one way, and it involves you, as the business owner, getting out of your office and in-front of prospective customers and….LISTENING to them. That is the trick! You should park any intentions of selling or marketing at this stage. Just listen!

What are you listening for? Whether those people that you believe are your customers agree that what you offer is indeed a solution to a problem they have.

Only once you have confirmation that your idea is indeed great, should you kick-start your factory, develop the marketing and send out the sales team….

About 70% of the client enquiries I receive are from entrepreneurs who think they need help with marketing, when what they really need is guidance on customer development.

Ultimately your first job as a new business is not to start selling, but to prove that you are in fact correct with your assumption that your product is sellable! You don’t do this by throwing money behind sales and marketing. You do it by getting out of your office and listening to customers.