Starting a Startup Pt. 2: Your Target Audience

These series of posts are based on my recent experience with starting a startup, and how I went about it with my partner to get us both on the same page for us to develop a strategy we both believe in and can execute on.


In my last post, we spoke about the importance of having a Why and one way you can discover your Why. Remember, the more personal the Why is to you, the more powerful it can be for you.

Chances are, you already have identified a product and a market you want to target. I don’t blame you; that’s how we work. We jump straight to solutions, but we need to take a step back to spend a bit more time defining and researching our strategy to increase the chances of our startup’s success. A little more work now will pay a thousand times over and over in the near future and far future. Defining and understand your customer will allow you to understand their problems since you are now focusing on a narrow range of people, and now you can design/build a solution that solves their problems perfectly.

Let’s dig into how we can define and understand our target audience.

Define your ideal Target Customer

We first want to define your ideal Target Customer. This target customer is an actual individual you have met before or one you’re going to have to cook up who would be your ideal customer.

Remember, your ideal customer is a customer that you’d want a million of!

The following exercise requires you to know your Ideal Customer well, so if you know them then ask them these questions (in a polite way!), and if not, put yourself if your ideal customer’s shoes and imagine what they would say.

Here are the questions you’ll want to be able to answer about your Ideal Customer:

1. Personal Info

  1. Name?
  2. Age?
  3. Marital Status?
  4. City?
  5. High School/College/University?
  6. Current Job Title/Profession, Company?
  7. Current Salary?
  8. Hair Color?
  9. Eye Color?
  10. Weight?
  11. Political Views and Religious Views?
  12. Career Path (how did they get to where they are today?)?
  13. Personal Interests?
  14. Hobbies?
  15. Personal Goals?
  16. Professional Goals?
  17. Family Goals?

2. A Day In Their Life

  1. What does the average day look like for them? (How do they start their mornings, get to work, when do they get home, etc.)
  2. Favorite brands?
  3. Favorite websites?
  4. News Sources?
  5. Which social networks to they use?

3. Most Important Relevant Problems

What are the three most important problems that they have that make them the ideal customer for your business?

4. Most Important Irrelevant Problems

What are the three most important problems they have that don’t have to do with your business?

5. Their worst fear

  1. What is the worst thing that could happen to them if their top 3 relevant problems aren’t eventually solved?
    1. How would this make them feel?
    2. How would their boss/colleagues react?
    3. How would their family/friends react?
    4. What are the personal, professional, and financial consequences?
  2. What is your customer secretly afraid of?
6. The Light
  1. What’s the best thing that could happen if their problems are solved?
    1. What would their perfect solution look like?
  2. What is it that they really want, more than anything else?
  3. What would they be willing to pay almost anything for?
As you can see, some of these questions are not simple to answer. To build a product that serves somebody amazingly well, you need to know this someone pretty well.

(Slightly) Generalize your Ideal Customer to get your Target Audience

In the last exercise, we got to know our Ideal Customer, including their deepest, darkest fears.

Unfortunately, your business cannot depend solely on your Ideal Customer because…well there’s only really one of them in the world. That’s okay; we can now generalize some of your Ideal Customer’s attributes so that you can find a bigger market for you to serve that is still niched and particular to the problems you are trying to solve.

Find the largest possible set of people that would share the same problems your Ideal Customer has, and you should end up with a profile that consists of the following:

  1. Demographic info (e.g., ages 40-55, lives in urban cities)
  2. A list of values they have (e.g.,. family-oriented, hard working)
  3. A list of skills they have (e.g.,. freelance lawyers)
  4. If B2B, company attributes (e.g.,. size, revenue)


Now the hard part…

It’s time to get out of the building! Interview with 5 – 15 people who fit your target audience and find out how accurate your customer profile is. Not only are you validating your customer profile, but you are also validating whether all these folks feel the same pain as your Ideal Customer did.

Update your Ideal Customer and Target Audience info whenever you learn of new patterns i.e. multiple people have said the same thing.

Once you feel you really understand your Ideal Customer and your Target Audience, and you’ve validated the major problems, we can now jump into Jobs to be Done and get closer to designing and building the right solution

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *