Who are these 100?

Last week’s post was on being in love with the problem where I discuss from my experiences, how that is important when building your business. I mentioned finding 100 people that you speak with that have the same problem and are willing to pay you to solve it.

While they may have the same problem, the solution they seek may not be the same. I only speak from my experience failing numerous time that has gotten me to this point.

Defining this ideal customer profile takes iteration and time. While you may have some idea of these people, you will still need to get to a stage where there is commonality between these customers. Here are a few areas to think of when defining your ideal customer profile:

Let’s take an example of an ICP: Founder of a SaaS business (1-50 EE) in USA/ Canada at the seed stage that does not have a background in sales.

Here are the components:
• Title: Who is the buyer of your product? NOT the business, but the person at the business that is making the purchasing decision. In this example, it is a founder.
• Type of business / Industry: You need to know the overall industry at the onset that you are targeting. In this case, you are going ‘kind of’ broad but this will help you to niche further down as you have conversations. In this example it is SaaS.
• Location: Where are your buyers located? In this example it is USA/Canada.
• Funding/Revenue: Do they have the money to buy your product? In this example based on my business model; pre-seed/seed/Series A stage companies could have the money to buy my product. Hence, in this example it is a founder of a Seed funded business.
• Head count: If you are selling a typical SaaS product then identifying the company size is particularly important. The need for a 50-100 employee count company is VASTLY different from a 200+ employee size organization. Infact the sales cycle is also different touching numerous personas. In this example, it is a company that has 1-50 employees.
• Background: Who are these buyers, what type of a background do they have, are they someone who is a technical person or has a product development background? By defining certain characteristics, you will be able to further niche down. In this example it is a founder that does not have a background in sales.
• Problem they ‘could’ have: What are you really solving for? Is it a vitamin (nice to have) or is it a pain killer (must have)? While for some it could be a vitamin and for others a pain killer, it is important to broadly know the challenge they face. Don't stop if for a few it is a vitamin in your initial conversations. In this example it is the challenge founders face to sell their product or solution.
• Sales cycle: This is what a lot of founders don’t think off when starting up. If you are building a product that is focused on an enterprise then their sales cycle is fairly long. Depending on the product, it could take 9-12 months to get your first sale. Do you have that type of bandwidth and funding to wait for a year? If you do, then great, but if you don’t, then you need to further refine who you are building towards.

Next post: The email I used to get interviews with prospects to learn more about the problem they face.

  1. 1

    Defining the right solution is hard, as it's appealing to make one for everyone. What do you do to make sure you pick the best solution? How do you define best?

    1. 1

      Yes, it is hard. I tried to please everyone and made so many mistakes. Feature creep is real.

      1. Try not to build for everyone, it's impossible to please everyone
      2. Have a ton of discovery calls with your potential ICP to learn about their problems and the solution they are willing to pay for
      3. From these calls, see trends in these solutions. There will be commonalities that emerge
      4. Choose 2 that not only address most problems but the value prop can be easily understood which will drive your ICP to purchase
      5. Try not to add too many features as your start
      6. Iterate, iterate, iterate
      1. 1

        Yes, this is exactly what I meant. I'm not sure if this self-citation is allowed here, but I wrote something that touches upon your points and I call it the Swiss-army-knife-trap. Do you recognize stuff in it?


        1. 2

          Very interesting, Yes, I sure do.

          In my experience, the trick is to niche down as much as possible initially and then expand later. Most founders I consult, do the exact opposite.

          1. 1

            Why do you think it is that causes this problem. What makes this problem happen?

            1. 1

              I think it's natural human behavior. We are all optimists that get blinded by trying to replicate other successful businesses. But, we tend to forget how all these businesses really started by iterating on a subset of a larger target market.

              A great example is Uber that initially started as a black car service in San Francisco before blowing up.

              1. 1

                Yeah, I've heard about 'the innovator's bias', loving your product too much.

                1. 1

                  Thank you for your support!

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