Knowing your target market: The importance of a business plan

Whether you’re a brand new startup, or a long standing industry leader, it’s absolutely essential that you have some form of business plan in place. Having a plan to reflect on and refer back to will always be a benefit; you’ll know exactly what direction your company is going in and what you will need to achieve and overcome to get there.

However, one huge aspect of a business plan which should never be overlooked is the customer. Although you may not have faces and names for every single customer or client who will be utilising your business and its services, you need to be able to understand them and what they are actually expecting from your company.

As a fresh startup, you can’t expect your customers to find you. It’s all well and good registering your limited company, but actually attracting those customers and getting their attention is just as important.

What do they need?

One aspect that many business professionals forget is that customers see businesses in a very different light to what the business owners do. Customers are very much in the mindset of “how can this business give me what I want and fulfil the needs that I have?”, whereas, from a business point of view, you’ll be more focused on how your business will run as a whole, not always looking at specific needs of customers.

It is because of this difference that your business plan is essential – you need to be able to clearly identify what your customers and clients are looking for in order to be a success. This often means looking to psychology and how the mind of a consumer works.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is something that all business startups should familiarise themselves with to ensure that they are meeting their consumers’ needs completely. The hierarchy is laid out in the form of a triangle, with each stage of the model working up to the summit; the ultimate goal.

This is a standard model which almost all business professionals will have seen at some point during their studies, so you may have a basic understanding how it works. In order to be considered successful with your customers, you will need to ensure that you are satisfying each of the sections – from the initial physiological needs, right the way up to self-actualisation.

How this helps

Once you have managed to identify your customer needs, you may be wondering what you will need to do with this collated information.

From what you have learned about your consumers, you will be able to adapt your product and streamline your service to fit those bespoke needs and desires. This of course doesn’t mean that you’ll have floods of customers right from the outset, but it does put you in a stronger position – particularly once you begin marketing your company.

Having a business plan on hand is essential; use it as a checklist and a resource to plan any future products and services. Having such an asset can help you to remain focussed on not only your end goal as a business, but deliver your products and services in line with your demographic’s needs.