In this ongoing series of articles concerning the five-phased agile business operations system for startups, Business Operating Support System, of BOSS, I have discussed the various steps in the development of the North Star. A startup’s North Star is the definition of the desired business outcome of your startup which includes what you are selling, why you are selling it, who are you selling it to and how you will exit.
Briefly, BOSS is an agile operating system that incorporates ideas and best practiced from the most effective methodologies in business, software and manufacturing. It creates efficiencies through a structured approach with five phases that set the vision (or North Star), strategy, execution, standardization and business improvement processes needed achieve alignment on company objectives, goals and measurable results utilizing leading and lagging KPIs.
The first phase of BOSS, North Star, consist of the above mentioned steps; What, Why, Who and Exit. In this article, I’m going to focus developing your ideal buyer profile which is a subsection of the Who stage.
The development of your North Star’s Ideal Buyer Profile (IBP) will focus on creating a clear and concise picture of what type of business you are selling to.
An ideal buyer profile, unlike a buyer persona which is a representation of the ideal person who might buy your product, is a description of the company that is a perfect fit for your offering. The ideal buyer profile details the companies that are the right fit for your offering and separates them from those which are not. Specifically the definition of the IBP is developed at the company level, not the contact level.
In developing your IBP, you will take a look at the prospect company’s industry, it’s revenue and/or available funding, the company size, it’s geography, it’s competitors and its needs.
The first step in developing your IBP is to take a look at existing companies that have found your offering to be a perfect solution to their problem. If you a startup and don’t yet have customers, take a look at your closest competitors’ companies that have adopted their solution. Next, you will examine each of the above mentioned criteria of these customers.
Let’s look at an example. Delerrok is a company that has developed a product called TouchPass, a fare collection system that can be used by transit authorities.
Delerrok’s ideal business customers are large, government-funded transit authorities in major metropolitan areas charged with implementing automated fare collection systems but faced with the high costs, long implementation times and inflexible customized offerings of currently available solutions.
This type of straightforward statement gets to the heart of the exact type of company you should be talking to, and, in addition, addresses the customer needs which can them be fulfilled by your offering.
The North Star and its incorporated elements is, perhaps, the most important step in the development of the five phases of your BOSS process. The other four phases, Strategy, Execution, Standardization and Improvement are difficult to implement without the clear starting point developed in the North Star phase. Put simply, it’s very hard to navigate anywhere without a precise map and clear travel plans.