A line of conversation we hear a lot in start-up companies is that focussing on, and securing
investment is key to unlocking the potential success of the business. Sometimes, the
process of seeking investment can become so all-consuming, that we forget the reason we
began in the first place.
When you imagine a start-up idea, what do you imagine first? Do you imagine the seemingly
endless rounds of investment pitches? or the page after page of grant application forms? I
would imagine that’s pretty unlikely.
More likely is that when you first picture your start-up company in action, it is through the
thought of customers using the products and services that you will go on to develop,
visualising them receiving delight from what you have created. When you consider what is
truly important in a start-up journey, it is ultimately customers who will determine your
success, so it should be then, that customers hold the key to unlocking many of the things
that founders covet so dearly, including investment.
Customer traction is more than simply pipeline building, it can come in many forms, and
often can feel negative at times, this is the important stuff, embrace it. If you only
seek feedback from friendly voices, you will never uncover the truth about your product and
its place in the market.
Think about who influences your customers and speak to them also. Who advises your
customer?, who writes about products in your industry? And ultimately, who consumes /
uses your products? Some of these stakeholder groups may never write you a cheque,
however, could be hugely influential to your success.
So, customer traction is essential, we better let the investment community know. Well, the
good news is that your potential investors are in on the secret too (they figured this one out
a long time ago). Imagine that next pitching round, when instead of simply providing your
audience with statements about how great you think your idea is, you provide them with an
overview of which customers also think your idea is great, better still, how much they would
be prepared to pay for it and how many they would be prepared to buy.
You don’t have a concept anymore, you have a customer focussed business, positioned for
success and investors will love that.
Go and speak to customers about your product or idea as early in your start-up journey as
possible. You will learn more in those conversations than you can imagine, and you might
just enjoy it too.