10 Ideal Customers are More Important than 30 Random Customers

Earlier this week I was talking to founders of a local startup about finding product / market fit (stage 1). They had a minimum viable product that was rapidly approaching minimum respectable product but didn’t have any active users yet. We were talking through goals for the next six months and it was emphasized to me that they were going to do everything in their power to sign up 30 paying customers.

After hearing the customer goal, I emphasized that signing 10 customers that fit their ideal customer profile was more important than signing a large number of random customers in the near-term. Here are a few reasons why quality is more important than quantity at the earliest of stages:

  • Customers will always ask for product enhancements, so it’s key that requests align with the entrepreneur’s vision of the future
  • Signing non-ideal customers is fine as long as you are prepared to say ‘no’ to feature requests that don’t fit the vision
  • Live customers represent oxygen for the product, so clean air is better than the alternative
  • Ideal customers are going to be happier customers and happier customers are going to provide testimonials as well as references for future customers

Of course, some customers are better than no customers. As co-founders working hard to find product / market fit, it’s critical to bring on ideal customers as well.

What else? What are your thoughts on focusing on signing ideal customers instead of random customers at the beginning of a startup?

5 thoughts on “10 Ideal Customers are More Important than 30 Random Customers

  1. Random customers will also have much more churn to them, making the return on time invested on them much lower.

  2. Good outcome to keep in mind, but in reality you’ll get maybe 15-20 customers, and then a few won’t be ideal and they fall off, then you’re left with the 10. So, what I’m saying is you don’t always have the luxury to be totally accurate and get these first 10 with a single accurate shot each, although you could, if you have time to be patient with it.

    So yes, if you’re left with these 10 and they are the bullseye of your target, then they could get you to the next 100.

  3. Great post and I totally agree with the principle. I would also go a step further and state that not only should customers be ‘ideal’ they should also be ‘want to solve the same problem’. For example if your ‘ideal’ customer is a lawyer and your product helps their business to be more efficient, then your best customers are ‘lawyers who agree they want to improve their efficiency’, rather than ‘lawyers that want to increase their sales’. This will hugely help with case studies and ROI on time and development resource as mentioned above.

  4. In an app store, a bad review turns a 30% chance sale into a 0% chance. A new app can’t afford any negative feedback.

    Ideal customers create positive momentum. They give you credibility, they become brand advocates, they offer each other support and they volunteer market research. An ideal customer pays you, the others cost you.

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