Focus on Finding Customers

140827 Tacos SignWhen starting out, the most important thing for entrepreneurs to remember is that the goal is to offer a product or service that solves a pressing problem or need for customers. Don’t get too attached to your initial  ideas. Rather let input from prospective and actual customers guide the decision as to what products or services to build.

To illustrate, allow me to share the story of a CSUF student entrepreneur who was planning to sell a marinade that was created by his father, a successful chef back in their home country. The marinade had been sold on a small scale in the U.S., with positive feedback from customers.

Over the summer, this student entrepreneur was offered the opportunity to sell tacos at a fundraising event for a non-profit organization. He knew nothing about making or selling tacos. In fact, his marinade was not even intended for taco meat. Despite these challenges, the student refused to let this opportunity pass him by. He worked diligently and brainstormed possible ways to create a tasty taco recipe that incorporated the marinade.

Here is how the event went, in his own words:

The results were unbelievable. I sold out and received many positive reviews, including some who commented: “I would pay top dollar for these tacos!”, “So far, these have been the best tacos I’ve tried at the event” and “My friend told me that these tacos were the best so I had to come over and try some.”

I tried to track down my metrics as best as I could, but the customers kept on coming so I lost count.

The event was a huge success. In addition to validating the demand for his tacos, the student also received many suggestions from customers on how to make the tacos even tastier. As a result, he is now working with both his father and another chef to improve upon the original formula with the goal of starting a business that sells tacos (and other food items) using his marinade as a starting point. The results are sure to be popular … and tasty!

The preceding was a post from Dr. Atul Teckchandani, one of the great professors teaching Entrepreneurship at CSUF. Dr. Teckchandani’s research examines the interdependent relationship between organizations and the communities in which they reside. He is interested in how the different types of organizations in a community collectively affect economic outcomes, entrepreneurial activity and the founding and failure rates of other community organizations. This research draws upon work in community ecology, economic geography, social networks and entrepreneurship. His research has been published in Social Science Research, and he has presented at conferences such as the Annual Meetings of the Academy of Management.

flickr | Vaguely Artistic


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