While many things have changed in business ownership and our economy over the last few years, there still remains the fundamental principle of businesses providing “needs vs. wants.” It’s pretty simplistic economics: a need is something a customer has to have and can’t live without such as food and shelter and a want is something a customer would like to have but it’s not absolutely necessary such as ice cream. Yes, a person may think they really need a scoop of ice cream on stressful days, but they don’t need ice cream to sustain life and there are certainly better foods that supply the same vitamins and minerals without the fat content. Someone may want ice cream, but they don’t have to have it to survive.
Successful entrepreneurs find opportunities to address the existing needs of the population. Those are most often the needs of underserved markets, impacted by regulation changes, or dealing with demographic shifts. A great example would be addressing the needs of our aging population. Within our FranNet business portfolio and in the open market, there are business concepts targeted specifically for seniors to avoid most any inconvenience imaginable: emergency alerts, moving, home modification, companionship, medical and rehab care, transportation, legal/financial services, and on.
Beyond knowing who needs the service or product, a business owner must also be able to educate or influence potential customers to see how their solution is “new” or “better” or “unique.” This is called differentiated value and allows entrepreneurs to call attention to their solution to a client’s need. In this economy, where traditional buying habits are constantly in question, customers are drawn to things that are unique or new. Frankly, there is more opportunity in entering the business market right now as traditional brand buying patterns are questioned.
The key is simple – satisfied customers. When business owners address groups in need, customer groups who are pleased with their services and products can be fiercely loyal. They are appreciative of businesses that are meeting their specific concerns. As with our aging population example, once trustworthy providers are identified, business owners can expect loyal customers and an unlimited word-of-mouth referral base. They have time on their hands and a positive business transaction to share with like individuals.
In 2015, it’s apparent that business owners have to have more than a client in mind to be successful. They must be familiar with their customers’ needs and wants, capture their attention and provide services and products that meet their satisfaction. An important lesson learned from the recession is that needs will remain needs even in a tough economy and the real winners are business owners who can successfully fulfill clients’ needs and anticipate future ones.
*This blog post was originally featured on Good Day Carmel
Mark A. Roger is a business expert with FranNet MidAmerica and a business consultant since 1993. He speaks regularly as the Indiana education partner on behalf of the OSBE, ISBDC and SCORE and founder of the E Round Table. Mark’s expertise is working with individuals seeking to own local, small businesses in Indiana.