At the beginning of the business, it is very crucial for any startup to find the real customers—the first customers, who would care to adopt their product, services, etc. However, almost every startup has an approved and accepted policy to believe that friends and family members are the ideal first clients, and they do not need to search and acquire real customers in the beginning.
Well, this is not the ideal situation. You can have family and friends use your product or services, but you should always try to reach out to the early adopters in a proactive manner.
Why? Here are some reasons:
The real customers will be ideal to test your product or service in the real-world scenario. They will tell you whether you are ready for market launch or not and whether the product or service provides a real value to the user for which he/she would be willing to pay or spend the required time.
Whether you are in the stealth mode or don’t want your competitors to know about you, you can isolate yourself from being in the market. Sooner or later, the word will spread—it is better to be a leader in the product or service launch.
Whether they invested or not, whether they are the target market or not, it is always good to have some real customers test your product or service. The feedback from your family and friends could be biased. Have you seen businesses paying mystery shoppers for a feedback that does not have any bias and gives them insights that are so valuable to the business?
Reaching out to some initial clients will also know the demographics and kind of customers that will be willing to adopt your product or service. Pick a target of maybe 500-1000 initial customers and take feedback—work on that feedback and then launch your product/service on a larger scale.
Your family and friends may be your target audience, but it always makes sense to have unknown people as your first clients because their behavior and attitude towards your product/service would encourage you and provide you valuable inputs for future strategic decisions and policy.