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Practicing Empathy: How Business Owners Can Learn To Think Like A Customer


As a business owner, it’s a given that you believe in your product or service. After all, what would be the point of investing huge amounts of your time, energy, and capital toward an endeavor you weren’t passionate about? However, the passion that fuels business owners to go the extra mile and burn the midnight oil can also blind them to some very real problems. Indeed, being too involved in internal processes can make you forget one of the core elements of a successful business: pleasing the customer. It may sound odd, but most entrepreneurs need to train themselves to think like a modern consumer. Fortunately, you can achieve this through practice.

Here then are four tips to help you empathize with and understand your customer base:

Go Shopping. 

Want to put yourself in someone else’s shoes? Then lace them up and go out for a walk! Seriously though, one easy way to get in the habit of thinking like a customer is to become one yourself. Search for keywords related to your business on a search engine or else visit a physical retail location with your products and see how they stack up against the competition. Even little things like design choices and label quality can make a big impact in a customer’s decision-making process.


No, don’t just stick to books on business or finance. (Though they are important.) Flexing your empathy muscles is all about considering people different from you. And reading about other humans – both fictitious and otherwise – will help you imagine how others perceive their reality.

Check Your Bank Statements. 

No matter how spartan your office, how meager your tastes, everyone has a few brands they identify with. Chances are, you probably make purchases from certain companies more than you think. That’s why checking your bank statements every once in a while is important. It will tell you which companies you as a consumer value most. From there, you’ll have a model you can work with and emulate. Even if the products you buy are nothing like the products you sell, you can learn a lot from how other businesses brand and market themselves.


Painfully obvious, right? Of course conducting surveys, market research, and indepth interviewing will provide you with valuable insight from your customers. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking for feedback. The key here is to take the results seriously. Don’t think you know better than your own customers – you don’t. Open your ears and close your mouth for a moment. You might be surprised at what you find out.