The Empathy Map and entrepreneurship

By Samantha Garner | March 9, 2019

empathy map

(Click the image to zoom in)

We use the term empathy in business to reflect our understanding of our customers – who they are, what they like and don’t like, what motivates them to buy something or not, and what pains we can solve for them.

Why is empathy important in business?

When we show empathy for our customers, we understand them from their perspective and, as business owners, we produce better services and products for them. Having empathy allows us to understand what needs our customers have (pains) and helps us estimate the value our products or services will create for our customers (gains).

Many small business owners get too focused on solving a particular problem that’s important to them, but maybe not to their customers. This is the why developing an Empathy Map is so critical when designing or launching a new venture. You will be able to identify insights about your potential customers that you did not know were there. You’ll be able to make products or services that stick by taking the time to understand your customer, and developing empathy for them.

The Empathy Map and entrepreneurship

The Empathy Map, shown above, was created by David Grey, of XPLANE and author of The Connected Company and Gamestorming. This tool has been used by millions of small business owners and their teams to develop deep, shared understanding and empathy for their customers.

1. Start with the Goal section, by defining who will be the subject of the Empathy Map and what you want them to do. This should be framed in terms of new and observable behaviour.

2. Once you have clarified the goal, work your way clockwise around the canvas, until you have covered See, Say, Do, and Hear. The reason for this is that the process of focusing on observable phenomena (things that they see, say, do and hear) is like walking a mile in your customer’s shoes. It gives us a chance to imagine what their experiences might be like, to give us a sense of what it “feels like to be them.”

3. Only after you have made the circuit of outside elements do you focus on what’s going on inside your customer’s head. The large head in the centre is one of the most important aspects of the map’s design. The whole idea is to imagine what it’s like to be inside someone else’s head.

For more about the Empathy Map and how it can help your small business, check out Class 3 of our 100 Essential Small Business SkillsTM program!

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Topics: Entrepreneurial Inspiration, GoForth Institute Small Business Training, Small Business Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Small business blog posts we liked this week

By Samantha Garner | March 2, 2019

Capital and financing for Aboriginal small business owners

From AI to authenticity, here are some of the small business blog posts and articles we’ve enjoyed lately. Got any of your own to share?

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5 ways you can be a great leader in your business

By Samantha Garner | February 23, 2019

be a great leader in your business

If your small business has employees, you’ve likely wondered how you can be a better leader. After all, studies have shown that 79% of employees don’t feel their work is strongly valued, and 55% would leave their current organization for one that better recognizes their contributions.

So, knowing how important employee happiness is, how can you use your leadership role to encourage it? Here are 5 things you can try right now.

  • Help out. Yes, you may be the top dog, but you should never pass up an opportunity to help your employees if and when you can. For example, if your restaurant got a sudden booking for 12 people arriving in half an hour, you could help your staff get organized and set up the area. Or if your team is swamped with customers and you notice someone walk in, you can step in and ask the customer if they need help. Getting in the trenches with your team when they need it sends a clear message that you care about them and what they do. They’ll also be more inclined to view
  • Keep your door open. Whether it’s literally or figuratively, leaving your door open for your employees to talk is another way to show them you support them. Let them know that they can come to you if they notice an issue or are feeling like they need guidance or help. And if they just want to pop in to say good morning for a few minutes, that’s great too!
  • Encourage their strengths. While it may not be realistic for you to customize each employee’s role based on what they’re strongest at, you should still play to their strengths. For example, if you run a small web design company and notice one of your designers is also very good at talking with clients, why not see if they’re interested in taking more of a client-facing role? Discovering and encouraging your employees’ strengths is a great way to demonstrate that you notice them, and that you care about them as an individual.
  • Work on the work-life balance. Helping to create a healthy corporate work-life balance can reduce employee stress, increase productivity, and show your employees that your leadership takes their wellbeing into account. Whether it’s a paid half-day off per month, more telecommuting options, flexible work schedules or something else, sit down and brainstorm some ways you can help your team members have a healthier work-life balance.
  • Model leadership that’s about more than just financial results. We know it’s important to you to have a small business that’s profitable, but that can’t be your only metric of success. After all, without happy and motivated employees, you won’t have a business at all! So make sure that you frame leadership as being more than just the bottom line. Let your team see that you’re driven by passion, empathy, core values, dedication, and a strong work ethic as well.

What are your favourite leadership strategies? Let us know in the comments!

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Topics: Entrepreneurial Inspiration, Small Business Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Target market analysis for small businesses

By Samantha Garner | February 16, 2019

find your target market

Many entrepreneurs are so excited about their idea that they think everyone else will be too. However, that’s just not the case. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “Everyone will buy my product!” or “I’ll find my clients as I go along!” This can spell failure for a new business.

Finding your target market

Does a market for your product or service even exist? Is it big enough and sustainable enough that your business becomes profitable? Small, scattered, unpredictable or unstable sales spell early doom for many small businesses. There’s a lot to know and understand about your potential customers. The better you know them, the better you can meet their needs and solve their problems.

What’s covered in a target market analysis?

  • Customer demographics – Characteristics of a population, likes gender, age, income and education for consumer markets; or sales, number of employees, sales territory, and industry size for industrial markets.
  • Customer psychographics – Information about your customer’s lifestyle, as well as on their attitudes, interests, opinions and reasons for buying products or services similar to yours.
  • Customer behaviours – What do your customers buy now? Why? How will they benefit by switching to your product or service?
  • Customer geographics – Where are your customers located? What city, region or country? How will that affect your potential business?
  • Market size – How many people or organizations would buy your product or service? How much would they buy, and how often?
  • Market need – Does your product solve a problem or fill a need?
  • Volume – How much of your product or service would they purchase and when?
  • Market communication – What is the best way to reach your target market? Print ads, social media, newsletters?
  • Competitive evaluation – Which competitive products or services do they currently use, and what do they like or dislike about each?
  • Prototype feedback – If you are able to develop a prototype, how did customers react to your new idea?

This critical information can be gathered with primary or secondary market research methods. Secondary methods are less costly and less time-consuming, but primary methods often give you more accurate information.

Questions and thoughts to define your target market

  • Define your customer. Complete one definition for each of the market segments you can identify.
  • Define your customers in terms of type (consumer or business), demographics, psychographics, behaviours, and geographic location.
  • Estimate the market size. How many of each of these target market customers would be in the area(s) where you wish to sell?
  • What are the unsatisfied needs of this market that your product or service would satisfy?
  • Why would customers buy your product instead of a competitor’s?
  • How much would they pay for your product or service? How much would they buy?

Once you’ve got a fairly good idea of who your customers are, narrow down your list into customer segments. Then, pick one segment you can catch and forget all the others until you’ve got that initial target in the bag. Don’t waste your time and money chasing customers randomly and frantically. It takes time, but focused customer research is a worthy investment for your business!

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Dragons’ Den 2019 auditions are nearly here!

By Samantha Garner | February 9, 2019

Dragons' Den Audition

Dragons’ Den auditions are starting soon! Beginning in Toronto on March 2, the audition tour will be open to the public, as producers hit the road visiting Canadian cities coast-to-coast in search of the country’s best business ideas in need of a Dragon investment. Check out all the dates and cities here and get some useful audition tips here.

A Canadian favourite, Dragons’ Den gives aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their businesses to a panel of wealthy Canadian business moguls – the Dragons. Successful pitchers will have a chance to earn real investment – from the Dragons’ own pockets!

Good luck, and we hope to see you on TV soon!

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