How Many Customers Does Your Business Really Need?

No one is buying?

The market’s just not big enough.

Our population is too small.

All of these are comments I hear regularly from business owners and people considering starting a business on Montserrat.

black-business-ownerWhile there is truth to all of the above statements, often we generalize and take on other people’s assumptions without testing them for ourselves.

Consider no one is buying. Are you running a business where you need people to purchase your service daily or can one good sale per week set you right and meet your monthly sales goals? Evaluate what your daily, weekly and monthly sales targets need to be and then evaluate your systems with those figures in mind. If you do require daily sales then what promotions or changes can you make to improve how your customers engage with your product or services? Maybe you are not advertising enough or not advertising on the media platforms or in the locations where your customers are.

The market’s just not big enough. Montserrat (5000) is one of the smallest markets in the region and while many think that is the case, places such as Saba (1800+) and St. Eustatius (3000+) have even smaller populations. Again look at your market. Do you need all 5000 people on Montserrat to keep you in business? Even if you did, could you meet the demand? The better plan would be to look at your sales targets and ensure they cover your expenses and a reasonable profit. How many people would need to purchase your cleaning or accounting service this month?

If your goal was 10,000 per month then evaluate your pricing packages. How many private homes would you need to clean monthly to reach that goal? How many businesses would it take to reach the target? If you have support then maybe it can be done by taking on more private homes or increasing the fees for servicing businesses.

Our population is just too small. Small gives you the opportunity to be unique and create a premium and quality product. If you look around and see everyone doing the same thing, then it does not make sense to follow the trend. All of you will be competing with the same products in the same space. Rather, find a way to position your products and services in the market so you stand out. Develop unique products, offer exceptional service, personalize your offerings to keep customers coming back.

Rather than listening to the voices around you who are often only repeating what they’ve heard from others, do you own research and listen to your inner expert.

Use the Start a Business in 5 Days Workbook to help you develop your market and sales strategy.

Caribbean Export Invests in Market Intelligence

Pamela Coke-Hamilton
Pamela Coke-Hamilton

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) convened a high level regional consultation to examine the rationale for market intelligence and its relevance to building export competitiveness; and to secure agreement on the development of a regional export strategy. The consultations took place from June 5th- 6th at the Radisson Aquatica Resort, Barbados. The meeting was attended by stakeholders from across the region.
In her opening remarks Executive Director for Caribbean Export, Pamela Coke Hamilton, stressed that “Market research and competitive intelligence can help, and is necessary for helping the CARIFORUM private sector to better understand a number of issues in export markets such as the market entry requirements for their products, consumer demand patterns and trends, competitor and substitute products, distribution networks and the regulatory requirements that affect their businesses.”
Caribbean Export has a mandate under the 10th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP) which speaks to the development of a regional trade and market intelligence system. The Agency’s efforts to date have focused on the delivery of products and services based on the trade information needs identified by the private sector and Business Support Organisations (BSOs) across the region. An important tool in the arsenal is the Caribbean Export Market Intelligence Portal (CE-MIP), an online tool which provides searchable market research features as well as a library of market intelligence products.
This consultation meeting also enabled much needed open dialogue between the stakeholders to help inform decisions on the formulation of regional export strategies. There is a direct link between market intelligence and export strategy development, which must be understood if the trajectory of regional exports is to be augmented. “We must also identify and select attractive markets based on global supply and demand trends, trade flows and market access for our products. Understanding those markets is invaluable before engaging in any firm-specific building initiatives,” stated Coke-Hamilton.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Hon. Donville Inniss reiterated the Executive Director’s remarks, commenting that what is of “paramount importance for firms is their ability to design and implement marketing programmes to communicate the existence of their products within external markets and to put in place feedback mechanisms through which they improve on their product offerings”. He also pointed out that “far too often we are still going according to gut feelings or personal contacts. We must accept that market research is an integral part of the firms activities into which appropriate human and financial capital must be invested.”
Caribbean Export also unveiled an Exporters Toolkit the aim of which is to provide a suite of information, guides, and templates to support region’s private sector in their efforts for exporting. The two-day consultations concluded with stakeholders endorsing the CE-MIP and confirming the need for continued build out of the current market intelligence products such as the Market Pointers and Market Opportunity Briefs. Stakeholders also endorsed the development of regional strategies for agro-processing, creative industries, and higher-education services but with a focus on brand development, enhancing access to the global value chain for regional producers and exporters, and strengthening of IP elements; and gave the thumbs-up for the Caribbean Exporter’s Toolkit expected to be launched shortly.