Finding an Audience for Your Side Business

Finding an Audience for Your Side Business

In this article, you will learn how to use a data-driven method to find an audience for your side business.

In this article, you will learn how to use a data-driven method to find an audience for your side business. I’ve seen this approach work for several founders, allowing them to discover an audience that not only would sustain a business for many years, but also make it an enjoyable journey.

Before we get to the step-by-step guide, I would like to address one particular problem that many newly minted entrepreneurs have, particularly when they come from an engineering background: They severely underestimate the importance of an audience—with devastating consequences.

Have you ever been to a museum only to be shoved through a gift shop on your way out? The gift shops are not the main attractions, yet they contribute significantly to those institutions’ bottom lines. But no entrepreneur in their right mind would open a museum gift shop in their garage and expect it to make a profit. A store stocked with art prints and interior design books needs a very specific audience. Museums have understood that to sell art-related books to people, they need to put the store where their artsy audience already is: on their way out of an exhibition. Museums have understood a core rule of a successful business: find your audience first, then sell them something that they need. They think “audience-first.”

If museums have understood that, why do we still see so many founders creating solutions searching for a problem? Why do so many entrepreneurs strain their minds to find a “good business idea,” jump to building the product, and then wonder why they can’t seem to find anyone to buy their solution? And how can you avoid making this exact same mistake while building your own business?

It starts with the cure to all bias: introspection. Mainly, if you’re coming from an engineering background, your perspective will be biased towards creating products. For engineers, everything is a potential product. We’re trained to create products; we’re taught to think product-first. We use products. We make products, and we know products.

Sadly, that often leads us to a logical fallacy: We assume that since we felt the need for a certain thing to exist, others will have the same need. We wanted it, so others will want it too. And even when it’s clear they don’t, we push ourselves to think that if we just sell it hard enough, someone will buy what we offer.

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