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Identify the questions you need answered

After you’ve developed your customer archetype and before you go out and conduct your discovery interviews, you want to get clear on what you’re looking to learn from your customers. You may be eager to go out and talk to people and you trust that the conversation will flow naturally, but believe us, taking this step is worth it to maximize these conversations! Remember, the best businesses are ones that solve important problems for customers. The purpose of talking to customers is to identify problems and gain insights about how to best solve it for them. In your customer discovery process, you have completed step 1 and are onto step 2.

A common mistake in freelancing is creating a solution that nobody wants. The reality is that customers will pay for their specific problems to be solved, not just for any random solution.

The purpose of this exercise is to hone in on what you need to learn about your customer’s pain points and needs in order to build a business that clearly maps to them.

Here’s an example:

You might be very passionate about a certain industry, whether it be food, science, education, or something else. Let’s use education as an example. Say you’re an SAT wizard and want to use those skills in your business. One business you might create is an SAT tutoring business, offering 1:1 tutoring for $200/hour.‍

Through the customer discovery process, you identify a specific customer archetype for your business to focus on and learn as much as possible about them. You choose to focus on Sophomores in high school in New York City public schools who are preparing for the SAT.‍

Interviewing a pool of them, you would learn about their potential pain points across a variety of areas:

  • Other SAT tutors are too expensive

  • The time those tutors offer isn’t accessible to them

  • The primary teaching style of other tutors doesn’t resonate with them

  • Other tutors only teach 1:1 and they would prefer learning with friends

  • the list goes on...

Based on these conversations, you identify and hone in on your niche.

What was previously your 1:1 tutoring business for $200/hour has been refined to a 4-person group tutoring service at $75/person/hour. This new iteration is lucrative for you and more beneficial for the customer. That is why actually learning about your customer, their pain points, and their needs from interviews before you go out and build your business is so important. It allows you the opportunity to identify a need within your niche and cater to it in an innovative way.

Identify what you want to learn from your customers

Now back to you. This process should focus on your target customer archetype. Pick one of the archetypes you developed in the previous exercise. You can repeat this process for the other archetypes too, but we suggest doing them one at a time.

Steps to take

1. Given your knowledge of the industry and the customer archetype, you likely already have an understanding of their pain points and needs. Let’s use these understandings to create hypotheses. Using our SAT tutor example, these hypotheses would look like:

  • "Existing tutoring businesses are too expensive for people who want them.”

  • “People prefer to learn in groups of friends than 1:1 with a tutor”

  • “People prefer to study for the SAT on weeknights more than on the weekend"

2. Use your workbook to list out all the hypotheses that come to mind. If you have a lot, group them into themes. There’s no right or wrong way to go about this, so follow your intuition. No need to go overboard here, this exercise is about focusing on what is important, not creating the longest list possible. For the SAT example, you might group the hypotheses into themes around the price, group size, and scheduling. Your list of themes will spring organically from your hypotheses.‍

3. With your list of themes and hypotheses, the next step in your workbook is to focus on the most interesting ones for you and your niche. Identify the most important themes (we suggest 2-3 max) to you. For the SAT tutoring business, it might look like this:‍

4. In the next step, we will take these hypotheses and turn them into questions. The step you just completed is important because it has carried you from identifying your customer archetypes to winnowing down the themes and assumptions around what these customers need.

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