Kierkegaard: Creativity Must Master Dread of the Unknown

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, skmurphy

Entrepreneurs can be paralyzed by the rich set of possibilities they face. It seems almost paradoxical that when you have one choice you can start immediately, when you have two you can flip a coin, but as possibilities multiply the desire to make the best choice can paralyze you. To fully embrace your creativity you must master your dread of the unknown.

Q: How Do We Get A Business Prospect To Talk To Us?

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, Acquisition, Lead Generation, skmurphy

Each interaction with a  business prospect or a customer has to promise an exchange of value: their time or money for at least the strong possibility of benefit. Many of the startup fantasy camp customer development training models neglect this and teach beginning entrepreneurs to rely on the kindness of strangers. This may work in certain consumer verticals but it rarely works in B2B markets.

Getting Better at Customer Discovery Conversations

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development, skmurphy

Getting better at customer discovery conversations requires preparation, practice, note taking, and follow-up. It can also be tremendously helpful if you can arrange for a partner who can observe, contribute,  take notes, and de-brief with you. Even if you are a solo entrepreneur “trade interviews” with another entrepreneur: agree to help them with one of their interviews if they will help you with one of yours. Here is a recent exchange I had during an office hours edited for clarity.

Am I Making A Fool Of Myself?

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, checklist, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

One of the most common questions I hear in conversations with entrepreneurs at a Bootstrapper Breakfasts, in Office Hours calls, or with clients–and not infrequently from myself when comparing notes with peers–is, “Am I making a fool of myself?” Here are some questions you can use to clarify your situation when you are starting to feel like a fool.

Primary Research Tools: Q&A With Jen Berkley Jackson

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Design of Experiments, skmurphy

I recently did an in depth interview with Jen Berkley Jackson of The Insight Advantage on primary research tools. Jen works with companies to help them make sure that they understand their customers better than any competitor or potential competitor. Her firm performs primary research for clients, using a variety of tools to gather information from customers, prospective customers, and the general market. Because of her considerable experience with a range of primary research tools I took this as an opportunity to explore the spectrum approaches that are available.

Organizing Your Experiment Log

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, Customer Development, skmurphy

In Chapter 9 of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” Robert Pirsig goes into an extended explanation of the Scientific Method using the metaphor of motorcycle repair. He stresses the value of an experiment log, explaining how to organize it so that you don’t become lost in exploring for solutions to a problem. I have excerpted it below and intermixed some commentary about applying it to early market exploring and debugging new product introduction problems.

Planning and Reflection

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Design of Experiments, Lean Startup

Ash Maurya rebooted his blog as “The Space Between“–experimental format where he is exploring the space between ideas–and has offered a number of short reflective posts. Here are excerpts from three where he explores the value of planning and reflection, and the need to prioritize learning over the illusion of progress.

Q: Should I Tap My 401K To Bootstrap?

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, skmurphy

Q: Should I tap my 401K to bootstrap my startup? I had a conversation with the CEO of another firm and he and his partners did this to bootstrap. They started a C corporation and set up a corporate retirement account, the partners then rolled existing retirement accounts into the corporate plan and invested the money in the company’s stock. I did a little research and found these articles:

Good and Bad Reasons to Pivot

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, checklist, Lean Startup, skmurphy

Much has been written about a startup making a pivot in direction after Eric Ries first coined the term
in a 2009 blog post “Pivot don’t Jump to a New Vision.” The word pivot has attracted almost as much wordplay as the word lean.  What follows is a short list of good and bad reasons to pivot.

Resources for Student Entrepreneur Organizations

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, skmurphy, Tools for Startups

Andre Nieto Porras: Tree Of IdeasWith the 2016  school year getting ready to start in the next six to eight weeks at most colleges and universities I have had several conversations with student entrepreneur organizations about how I might be able to help them.

I have developed content and given talks and webinars over the last five years that may provide student entrepreneurs help to get oriented to many of the basics of customer development, innovation, and new market exploration. 

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