Get Out Of The Building
Having been in the startup space for the last 4 years and having dealt with multiple failures, if a ‘new’ startup founder came to me for advice, I would tell him/her just one thing – “Get out of your damn office building and spend some time with your actual customers”
I am not going to mince words here. There is no point ‘intellectually ideating’ with a bunch of mentors in a room discussing ‘who will be the ideal customer’. Instead, go out into the market and find it out yourself. You will be stunned with the insights your customers/non-customers can give you! If at all you really like the air conditioning in your swanky office, then go at 7pm once you’ve spent the day in the field.
Look, everything follows the Pareto’s principle (80/20 rule) eg – 20% of your clients give you 80% of the revenue. Similarly, spend 80% of your time in the field and 20% in the office. If only I had done this earlier, I would be the founder of a unicorn company (it’s never too late though)
Let me tell you the story of my good friend who I won’t name for obvious reasons. He spent about 1.5 years preparing the perfect product which NO ONE WANTED! He was always living in a fantasy world where ‘he thought’ this is what the customer needs. Unfortunately, he was in for a rude shock when customers didn’t show any interest in his product. All of this in the guise of the ‘perfect first impression’. He always told me ‘You know I want to show my customer a great product, hence I don’t want to go to the market right now’. I am sorry, but in my humble opinion, first impressions count only if you are going on a date (actually no, but we’ll talk about this later). Screw the first impression if you want to have a great impression in the long run. Make as many mistakes as possible by talking to potential customers. Even if you leave a bad impression with a few customers, remember – we Indians are doing really well with our population rate. You will never run out of market size!
I humbly appeal to you, get out of the damn building and go on multiple dates with your customer. That’s how you’ll find your love. I meant your ‘actual customer’!