Last time in Founder & CEO we discussed where you should start your business: not geographically, but mentally. What questions should you ask yourself and answer first?

In the lean startup movement, it all starts with the customer: What do they need from you?

That’s pretty brilliant.

Even more brilliant? You start your company not by thinking about it and then making stuff, but by asking potential customers what they need.

Just ask! Interview prospective customers. Say something like this: “We’re starting a business that we think will really serve you in [this field], but we aren’t ready to sell anything to you yet. Instead, we’re starting with an interview, to learn what you’d really want most in [that field]. Can we schedule some time?”

Exactly how you phrase it is entirely up to you. Also, if I were on the customer end of that, the first question I’d want answered is, “Who is this guy who wants my most valuable resource (my time)?” That is something you should already have answered through personal branding, but… well, a lot of very talented people have yet to create a strong personal brand. If that’s you, you should probably get on it.

But back to your business: even if it isn’t new or small or techy at all, start with customer interviews. Let people tell you what they want to buy from you.

Then make it and sell it to them.

Any questions?

In an upcoming post, we’ll talk a little about how to narrow your focus as you launch your own company. Till then, here’s a hot tip for you:

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continual Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries. You can find it on this terrific website.

Founder & CEO is a commitment to share the adventures and misadventures of our effort to build OPENfor.Business into an industry-transforming market network, in 300 words or less. This is post #2 in that ongoing series.

About Ted Coiné

Ted Coiné is CEO of The Extraordinary Network, a group that is rewriting all the rules of influencer marketing by cutting out agency middlemen to work directly with B2B and luxury brands. Proud “bleeding heart capitalists,” he and his team have built support of a great cause into every for-profit campaign they undertake.

His entire career, Ted has collected fascinating people, most notably other thought leaders who also have a large and loyal audience of large enterprise leaders. He has watched the Wild West that is influencer marketing until he realized an opportunity to fix this broken system, and give influencers the sway they need to move markets together, and to get paid what they’re deserved for this power they bring to bear.

An Inc. Top 100 Speaker and one of Business News Daily’s 15 Twitter Accounts Every Entrepreneur Should Follow, Ranked #1 authority on the Social CEO and #3 in the Future of Work, Ted is also a serial business founder and CEO.

Ted is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership gave Ted a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

He lives in Naples, Florida, with his wife and two daughters.


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