Small businesses can either choose to stay small or unintentionally limit their growth by pursuing it in the wrong areas. Ultimately, the success of a small business can be boiled down to the idea of darts, with the bull’s eye representing ideal customers who can best understand and benefit from the company’s products or services.

The bull’s eye on the dartboard represents customers who are most like you and who are most likely to have the same problem your company aims to solve. They are typically the first customers to try your product or service and are the most passionate about it. Customers who are further from the bull’s eye are less likely to feel the same pain or need that your product or service addresses.

Entrepreneurs may venture outside their bull’s eye to find customers because, as a self-funded startup, they may not have the financial resources to invest in formal marketing. Instead, they often rely on word-of-mouth and referrals, which can lead to talking to customers outside the bull’s eye. While these prospects may experience the problem the company aims to solve, they may have slightly different needs, leading to customizations or changes to the original offering.
While making changes to the original product or service to accommodate customers outside the bull’s eye may seem innocent enough, it can ultimately undermine the company’s growth. This is because growing a business beyond the founder’s efforts requires hiring employees or building technology to handle the workload. Employees need time to master the delivery of the product or service, and constantly making tweaks for new customers outside the bull’s eye can lead to confusion and substandard products or services.

Having unhappy customers may lead the owner to step in and “fix” the problem, and while some founders may be able to create customized products or services for these customers, it makes the company reliant on them. A business reliant on its founder is limited in its ability to grow, as the founder can only work so many hours in a day.

The key to avoiding this growth plateau is to be disciplined in only serving customers in the bull’s eye for a longer period than feels natural. While the temptation to pursue any revenue to achieve growth is great, serving customers outside the bull’s eye can ultimately lead to a dead end. Achieving sustained growth requires focusing on serving ideal customers, as they are the ones who will bring in more customers and spread the word about the company.

Are you curious about how sellable your company is and what you would need to tweak to sell it when you’re ready? Then it’s time to get your Value Builder Score via the questionnaire on our website. It takes about thirteen minutes and your responses are kept confidential. You can complete the questionnaire here.