Feeling lost? You need to talk to your customers.
This post is about the isolation that founders and companies feel when they lose touch with their customers. It’s not a nice feeling. It’s the same feeling as losing momentum, probably because they’re related.
Note that this is for early stage startups or founders, not for later stage companies.
Your customers are your friends
Customers are the equivalent for a business what friends are for an individual. They support you to make better decisions, they make you feel wanted or loved. They stick around because you provide them with value, and they provide you with value in return. Even if you’re still working on what that value is, they’ll stay friends on the hope of what this friendship might evolve into.
If you abandon them when you’re trying to find product-market fit, by not keeping in contact, and/or not reaching out to them when you’re struggling, then you risk isolating yourself and your company. You also risk them finding other ‘friends’, to provide them with the value that you’ve been promising.
When this starts to happen you’ll feel uncertain about what you’re doing. You start to spend time in your own head, instead of validating the assumptions that are stalling you and preventing you from making decisions.
If you have a team, you start depending on them for the feedback you should be getting from your customers.
The solution: reach out to your customers.
Tell them what you’re struggling with and listen to their response. Test out concepts, and let their decisions guide your decisions.
Be honest; Honesty build trust, and trust sells products.
But keep in mind; like your personal friends, your customers will have feedback based on their own experiences and views. Your role as a founder or leader in your company is to infer the best answer based on their responses.
Remember: you’re in this to help make your customers lives better. You need their continuous input to be able to do this to the best of your abilities.
Ways to reach out:
- Select a few of your customers who have been with you for the longest and meet with them personally. Share your thoughts or product with them and ask for honest feedback. You could do this in person, or over Skype or messenger chat to make it faster.
- If there’s something that’s not working well for you, select a sample of customers and ask them what they want e.g. if the content you’re creating is not getting the response you want, ask people what they want to know more about.