For the last couple of years, I’ve been counseling every startup founder I meet to practice Lean Startup principles – Get out of the building! Talk to customers!
Of course, that whole time, I’ve been safely ensconced in a corporate job … easy for me to tell others what to do.
Lately I’ve been getting the entrepreneurial bug myself again, and I’ve been exploring a few different ideas. You know what I’ve discovered? Doing it the “right” way kinda sucks! Or at least, it’s really HARD. I want to build things. I want to trust my vision and do things the Steve Jobs way – deep down in my heart, I know I’m one in a trillion, just like him (don’t you feel the same way?). But here’s the thing … I’m not willing to BET on that. So I’m taking the same medicine I recommend to everyone else and doing my Customer Development.
It’s really a bummer when you talk to five people about an idea and none of them would buy it. It still feels like rejection. However, I’m learning about the pain points those people actually DO have. I also realize I might not have found the right people to talk to yet. It’s forcing me to be more precise in thinking about who my ideal customer is. I would have to reach a lot of them after I build – it’s a lot cheaper to reach a few now. And if I can’t find ten people who would pay for my idea? Whew – good thing I didn’t waste my energy coding.
Building a startup is like solving a puzzle. There are so many different pieces you have to fit together. I love that. I love the challenge of figuring out a business model and a compelling value proposition. I love BUILDING things. But amazingly enough, sometimes the way to win is by deciding you can’t solve a particular puzzle before expending too much energy on it.
And then you simply move on to the next one.