Many of the “start your own small business” guides I’ve read talk about this “ideal” customer. It’s the sort of person you want to be offering your gifts to. I still don’t think I’ve decided on my ideal customer, but I have some ideas.

Finding your ideal customer is a bit like finding your ideal romantic partner. I’m a man, and I’m attracted to women, so for the purposes of this metaphor, I’ll be using that convention. Substitute for whatever your reality.

In order for me to attract an ideal partner (note I say “an ideal partner”, not “the ideal partner”), I need to have a good long think about what sort of desires, problems, challenges and personality she has. I like to think I’m pretty easygoing when it comes to this, but I’d also like for her to be easygoing – and I do have a few deal-breakers, too.

Based on her hobbies, personality and lifestyle: where is she hanging out? If you don’t know where she logically might be, then how are you expected to find her? How many guys do you see out at night clubs on a Saturday trying to find someone? I’m not here to judge their intentions. Growing up in Western Sydney, I’ve always felt this undercurrent of cultural truth: “going out to a bar or club is a great way to meet people”. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with that. But is it meeting the kind of people (or person) you’ve identified as ideal?

You might see a girl with a good imagination and vocabulary as part of your ideal. Reading books are a pretty good indicator of this, so maybe check out a book club? True, you’re not guaranteed to find an intelligent and well-read woman here, but I’d argue it’s far more likely than our night club scenario previously.

This “ideal customer” concept might not be relevant just to businesses then, but also to those of us seeking relationships. Heck, this even extends to your friends. The people around you have such a dramatic influence on your life, it would be prudent to consider who they are and who you would like around you. Hopefully these two considerations match up.

But I digress with the relationships metaphor.

When talking to my friends about Owlsight courses, a common customer suggested for me to target is corporates. Corporates love to spend money on courses which provide any sort of development for the staff and an opportunity for them to connect with each other outside the workplace. As someone who worked in a corporate environment for 4 years, I can definitely sympathise.

I agree that corporates would be a potentially lucrative market, however the prospect of doing the majority of my work for corporates (or even having them as my ideal customer) makes me feel a bit icky – for a few reasons.

  1. I worry that corporates will primarily use compassionate communication with a view toward the objective: getting what they want out of clients.
  2. Of all the areas I believe compassionate communication can benefit, business relations is the one I am least passionate about.
  3. I’m afraid that participants on the course will be there because their “Training Coordinator” signed them up, and thus won’t be as willing to learn.

For the time being, I’m not targeting corporates and consultants. Even if I were, this article would probably serve as a kind of barrier to those groups contacting me.

I’ll continue to think about my ideal customer (hint: it has something to do with teachers and healthcare workers). In the meantime I’ve learnt that determining your ideal customer is not only helpful in business, but in life in general.

Perhaps I’ll go and evaluate who I spend my time with.

-Luke.

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Photo is of a cup of lemongrass and ginger tea from a café in Bondi Junction.


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