Most people start a business one of two ways. They either open a store for something they like and then figure out how to bring customers in, or they find a niche for customers and open a store that fits that niche. There are pros and cons to each one. Obviously, having guaranteed customers first is more of a sure thing, but there is always a way to turn it around. First you need to find your ideal customer. Do you want to appeal to: Teens? Working adults? Stay at home moms? Retirees? Other? Once you’ve found the right demographic, find out what they want, what they need, or what they’re missing. Second, you need to figure out how to reach them. Do they: Listen to talk radio? Do they shop online or mostly go into stores? Do they subscribe to the newspaper? Finally, build an audience. Start a mailing list or blog and talk to people. Pick their brains and find out what they really want and need in their lives. Finding out what people want means you can produce products and market directly to these people. Once you have your audience and the product they said they wanted, you have a built-in group of people that will automatically be more likely to buy your product. If they’ve gotten to know you and you’ve built up a rapport with them, they are more likely to pay attention to what you have to say. If you’ve consistently provided good content, they will trust that your product will be good too. When you start with a store and not an audience, it has definite disadvantages, but there are also advantages to having something to offer people to begin with. Ask people that come into your store what they are looking for. Keeping a running list of products your customers ask for is a good way to judge what the people want. Look at your store and figure out what kind of people would want to shop there. Once you figure that out, go back to building an audience and market to those people through social media and things like newsletters. Talk to anyone that comes into your store on a regular basis and find out what things that particular demographic wants. Hopefully you won’t find that you’ve wasted time and money by making a store with a niche that doesn’t sell. It isn’t a lost cause if you picked your business based on your interests, but nothing can replace market research when it comes to selling your product.