In the Beginning…the Founders are the Business

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development, Demos, skmurphy

The closing slide in our Idea to Revenue Workshop says

In The Beginning…
The Founders Are The Business.
To Keep The Business Viable,
Learn Faster Than the Competition.
Successful Entrepreneurship
Is a Self-Improvement Project.

When it’s your idea you have to act as if you believe in it and avoid continually seeking validation. Instead ask for criticism and suggestions for how to make it more useful, more valuable, less painful or cumbersome. The hallmark of a serious commitment to a product or service is an active and ongoing search for ways that it could be improved to create more value for a prospect or an existing customer.

As founders you normally select the features and then personally develop the first product. In addition–in early days in particular–you may need to wrap your product in a thick protective coating of personal service to prevent your customers from cutting themselves on “the rough edges of tomorrow” (believe me they can leave some jagged cuts as well as a few dents in a customer’s career).

Either of these situations, whether it’s hearing that your baby is ugly or that you performed unsatisfactorily, can make it difficult to appreciate criticism and ask for more detail. If you can, mentally “stand next to yourself” and pretend that the customer is talking about your twin brother’s mistakes or your co-founder’s product. This may allow you to avoid the trap of explaining to the customer why they have mis-assessed–how many times have you left a demo wondering “I don’t understand, we won the argument: how come we didn’t get their business?“– before you have encouraged more feedback and fully understood their critique.

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Comments (2)

  • SKMurphy » Unfamiliar Pain

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    […] I think with unfamiliar pain you are not sure what’s going to happen next, and it’s this anticipation that can weigh on you. I’ve written about startups requiring a parallel self-improvement project by the founders. It’s been my experience that most teams change, or actually follow through on significant changes, in response to pain and the clear prospect of more pain. […]

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