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Step 2: Identify Your Customers


Starting on the Right Path
Seven Steps for Help You Start Your Business

1. Take a Good Look at Yourself
2. Identify Your Customers
3. Build a Support Network
4. Make it Official
5. Facilities and Staff
6. Write a Business Plan
7. Obtain Financing

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Step 2: Identify Your Customers

You may offer a good product or service, but it won’t sell if people don’t want it or believe they don’t need it. Knowledge and understanding of customer needs is at the centre of every successful business. Once you have this knowledge, you can use it to persuade potential and existing customers that buying from you is in their best interests.

What do you know about your customers?

The more you know about your customers, the more effective your sales and marketing efforts will be. Can you answer these questions about your customers?

  • Who are they?
  • What do they buy?
  • Why do they buy?
  • When do they need it?
  • How do they make their purchases?
  • How much can they afford to pay?
  • What will they expect of you?

You can learn a great deal about your customers just by talking to them. Ask why they’re buying or not buying, what they may want to buy in the future and what other needs they may have.

Sales are driven by the benefits that your product or service provides your customers. It’s much easier to offer your product or service as the solution


The customer’s current supplier

You should also ask: Who is my potential customer’s current supplier? Is my potential customer satisfied? Could my business do better?

The easiest way to identify a current supplier is to ask your potential customer. Generally people are happy to offer this information, as well as to tell you whether they’re satisfied with their present arrangements.


In Nunavut, there are three general types of customer:

The government, major resource developers, such as mining companies and the general public. You probably already have a pretty good idea of what the general public wants to buy, but do you know what the government purchases, or what services a mining company will need? Regulations are in place to encourage governments and resource developers to buy locally, where businesses exist to provide the goods and services they need. This gives Nunavut businesses an advantage that can be used to get a business started.

Governments and most private companies make their purchases after they have issued a Request for Proposals – an invitation to local businesses to provide their price to supply a particular good or service. Proposals are evaluated and points awarded for quality and price. The business proposal that scores highest makes the sale.



In Nunavut, the Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti (NNI) permits the government to award extra points to a proposal from a local business, a Nunavut business, or an Inuit firm. This gives your business a better chance to score highest, and make the sale.


Export Markets

For many years Nunavummiut working in the arts, film, meat and fish, and tourism businesses have sold their unique products to customers who live outside the territory. Consider whether your business has a product or service you can export. The government has prepared a five part series of publications on exporting. Copies are available from the Community Economic Development Division.



The Department of Community and Government Services, in cooperation with the Department of Economic and Transportation has prepared a “Doing Business with the Government of Nunavut” reference guide. To view this document, go to: The federal government has an aboriginal business procurement strategy which can be viewed at