After people (investors) ask, “What’s your idea?” they ask, “Who is this for?” I am currently in the middle of establishing a non-profit and have been struggling to define my target market to others. I have a concrete idea in my mind, but conveying that to others is another matter. Breakthrough came when I explained who this non-profit is not aimed toward. By explaining how my project differentiated from others, I narrowed in on the target market. It’s good to know who your business caters to, but sometimes the best avenue is to differentiate yourself from similar businesses and know who is outside of your target market.

Identify your target market: Set up some parameters. Who is not the market and then who is? Is this endeavor specifically for kids ages 5-12? Then obviously that’s your market, but who else is? Mom and dad. Are you starting a non-profit for the homeless? Then there are two groups you need to narrow in on: the homeless and the benefactors. Set limits on who your business is for.

• Research, Research, Research: There are a lot of resources on-line for researching your target market. The best is easily the Census Bureau’s website. Check it out and get to know the facts about who your audience is: primarily female, specifically 20-somethings, seniors, grandparents, etc. Where do they live? How do they get around? If you are aiming for a specific zone, then check that area out. What business is excelling there? How will yours fit in? The better you define your market through research, the better prepared you are to sell to investors.

• Get to know people in your target market: After you’ve researched and defined who your target market is, go one step further. Get to know the audience in person. Invite a small group out to dinner or coffee. Share your ideas and plans with them. Ask for their input and take notes! As future clients, they know best what they’re looking for. If you have a service for working moms or a product for teenagers, get to know those people who fall into your target market. Find out if what you’re creating is something they are actually interested in! And perhaps they have ideas on perfecting it. Don’t overload yourself with opinions and input, but do collect bits of insight from the real people in your market.

With self-awareness, a great idea and a solid target market, you’re ready to step into the details of how to go about setting this business endeavor up. As an entrepreneur you’re ready to move from knowing your target market to working for them. So, who’s your target market?

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