Opening your own business is often a dream for a lot of people. In fact three in five Americans want to make their own business a reality according to the New York Post (here).
But often we don’t know where to start. I will be sharing personal tips, coming from mistakes and successes of businesses I created.
1- Find your product market fit (PMF)
This PMF comes from my startup phase, with my previous company called Donkeez. I made the mistake to create and invest $15,000 of my own savings before knowing if the market was eager for it. You should never invest in a product if you haven’t tested it first at a smaller scale.
I know, we often think the product or service we bring to the world is the best. I’m sure it is! But having an actual niche or market ready to pay for it is a different topic. You should focus first on that niche, identifying gaps within that niche, so you can shape your product within the niche and answer a real problem.
For example, Pastreez answers questions like “Where to find macarons near me”, or ”where to find crêpes near me”. When my wife and I left everything in France to build Pastreez in California, we needed to meet potential customers. And hear their feedback.
Because at first, you don’t know anything about your potential market or niche. So we were bringing free samples of macarons, crêpes, tarts, pies and all that good stuff we learned for years in Le Cordon Bleu Paris (see our interview from LCB Paris here).
Once you have a better idea about your market and potential customers, back to the product. Make sure that it fits the best to your niche. For example at Pastreez, we decided to focus first on macarons. Because it was very popular at the meetups we attended.
Once you have that product, it’s time to ask customers to pay for it. But keep it small. Remember that feedback is great, but it means really nothing unless customers actually pay for it.
To keep it small at first and keep that feedback to come in for more confidence, I suggest you sell in-person to meet your customers. For us it was at Farmers market in Newport Beach, Malibu and Costa Mesa in California. Before Pastreez became the reference for Authentic Macarons Online, we were selling macarons in-person to continue to learn from customers, and improve our products.
2- Start small and get feedbacks
Your objective is to put your product in front of customers the fastest possible. It’s ok if it’s not perfect. Price accordingly. Remember, this is the first step to growing with the help of early feedback from customers.
Start small, and don’t try to grow too fast. A perfect example to illustrate this is what we call startups. A start up has only one goal: Grow fast. They don’t focus on profit, they focus on scale. It doesn't matter if this company won’t turn into a profitable one (Twitter, Uber, etc.).
In fact you want the exact opposite for your small business. You want to control the profit of your product, improve quality, and get your early customers to be brand ambassadors. Doing that with your own hands takes a little longer. But don’t take too long though!
Within a few months after you established your business, online or in-person, you want to test your product. You can use a method called A/B testing, which consists into testing A opposite to B. If B has the most good feedback, keep it to B. The A/B another part of your product (packaging for example), and keep the winner. And so on. Doing so for few months will guide you to a robust product market fit.
How to test if you’re there? Reviews, feedback. At Pastreez we have a review system for each order. When you receive over 96% of 5-stars reviews, we feel confident that customers had a great experience.
How do we treat bad reviews from customers: It has to be consistent with others. For example, if there was an issue with a specific macaron flavor, and that this has been mentioned by multiple customers, we know for sure that there is an issue to be handled for this flavor.
Thanks for reading! If there is a specific topic you'd want me to talk next, comment below. Cheers!