The Most Important Question To Ask Your Customers

Lessons learned building my startup to help other startups

Joe Procopio

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image by diana grytsku

I’ve built over a dozen B2C and B2B startups over the last two decades, including two right now — one VC-backed high-growth company and my own bootstrapped project. One common thread across all of these companies is this inescapable fact:

If you want to learn about what your company needs to do to be successful, you have to look deep into the magic mirror that is your customer base, and ask some hard questions.

That’s what I did last month, and here’s what I discovered.

But first, a little context

Just over two years ago, I founded Teaching Startup as a project startup to fill the gap between the “free” startup advice posts I write and the crazy money I get paid as a formal advisor.

Teaching Startup fills that gap with expert answers — based on actual questions from working entrepreneurs — with over 300 answers in the database, ready for when you have a question. And if the question isn’t there, you can ask your own, and then that answer gets added too.

It’s a nice virtuous cycle, and thus, it’s a startup that helps startup founders do their startup. That’s an important statement when we talk about the most important question I need to ask my customers.

Every three months, I do a survey of our growing customer base, each along a different theme. I just finished one up in July with a theme of “utility” — or usefulness.

So in an effort to deep dive into the most important question — here are the results of that survey (as delivered to Teaching Startup members at the end of July).

The most important question is…

“Does my product do what my customers need it to do?”

And the best answer you’re going to get is always going to be, “Yes, but…”

Some of my survey questions were obviously directly about the customer, (Does Teaching Startup help you build a better business? Does it make you a better entrepreneur?). Other questions were about the product features and touch points themselves.

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com